Any bank or City institution thinking of relocating to Frankfurt or Paris, post-Brexit, should take a trip to The Ned before the removal vans arrive.
The £200 million rebirth of the former Grade 1 listed Midland Bank Building in the City of London is the brainchild of Soho House founder Nick Jones. But this time the concept has been supersized, with help from US hoteliers the Sydell Group.
Step off the street and you wonder if you’re in the right place. The atmosphere is less like a hotel, more Harrods food hall meets Grand Central Station.
The vast ground floor is home to seven restaurants dotted among the 92 verdite-clad pillars, the green stone imported from Africa in the 1920s by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens, the building’s original architect.
What was once the reception is now a stage-cum-bandstand. Live music — classical and jazz when we visited — fills the foyer day and night, adding to a vibe more Manhattan than Mansion House.
That New York state of mind is evident everywhere, aided by Manhattan-inspired deli restaurant, Zobler’s, the brainchild of Sydell CEO Andrew Zobler.
Arriving at 3pm the ground floor buzzed with the Sunday Feast gourmet buffet at Millie’s Lounge, Lutyens Grill and The Nickel Bar (£39 per head plus drinks), packed with families and celebrating friends.
Non-members can use all ground-floor bars and restaurants, but only members and hotel guest may venture beyond the eateries to Ned’s Club.
Escaping the hubbub we headed to the roof for a light lunch Ned’s Club Upstairs — creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon; crunchy sweet potato chips and a superb cured tuna.
Afterwards, it was time to venture into the Vault Bar, another of Ned’s Clubs, carved from the former banking vaults which appeared in the movie Goldfinger. The original vault door remains and the walls are lined with 3,000 safety deposit boxes.
Our room was as well-equipped as you’d expect. King-sized bed, puffy pillows, oversized flat screen HD TV, Nespresso machine, Roberts DAB radio and sufficient Soho House brand Cowshed products to open your own spa.
Then another Sunday Feast for our romantic dinner date, this one evenings only, at in-house restaurant Cecconi’s, with vegetarian and fish options on the Italian seasonal set menu.
We attempted to offset all that food and drink next morning two floors below ground in deepest Ned Club territory, which boasts a gym, boxing ring, spa with Moroccan hammam and a slate-lined pool, where three City types stood chatting in the shallows before eating a healthy power breakfast of smoothie bowls on the loungers.
Time for one final meal for us too; at the California-inspired Malibu Kitchen, where I ate a pile of gluten-free, superfood-packed and Instagram-ready turmeric pancakes with edible flowers. My husband’s half coconut filled with coconut yoghurt, toasted coconut and mulberries was similarly photogenic — and tasty.
The Ned’s genius lies not in the grandeur and scale of the place but in the attention to detail, managing to be gloriously over-the-top, and tasteful at the same time.