Something perceived as ‘cold’ when observing modern buildings in the European-American metropolis, is the opposite in the Ned London
2017 saw the new opening of The Ned, a club, hotel and dining venue in a converted London bank, which was named hotel of the year at the AHEAD Europe awards in the same year. It is the restoration of an industrial building, a former Midland Bank institution. It is also, like many interesting projects are today, the collaboration of two hotels giants represented by Soho House & Co, which has built and run 18 members’ clubs – most with bedrooms – and 37 restaurants around the world and Sydell Group, which currently owns eight hotels in North America, including The NoMad in Manhattan, Freehand in Miami and The Line in Los Angeles.
While both companies have worked with historic buildings before, Jones and Zobler, the two companies’ founders were inspired by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens’ masterpiece at 27 Poultry – from all 29,450 square metres of it. Edwin Lutyens was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings. Spreading ‘britishness’ from every and each corner, the Ned building in London was an instinct magnet for the two businessmen and creatives, especially from its scale and idea of subtle and glamorous power it spread.
Trying to re-create what Sydel had realised with The NoMad Hotel, taking an area of Manhattan that had been overlooked in terms of hospitality and opening a hotel with a clever New York-Parisian feel, turning the neighbourhood into a destination, was what was aimed with The Ned, whose opening took place in 2017. Its location, in London’s financial centre, was an unusual move for a brand whose target market had previously been creative professionals.
The City is as busy as Soho and much better looking; it’s the capital’s engine room for commerce but also has more than its fair share of culture for one square mile. Like New York’s own Financial District – it’s developing at a rapid pace, declared Jones regarding the opening in 2017. The companies brought different skills to the table. The Ned’s grand banking hall is vast, offering a variety of restaurant to its visitors, including Cecconi’s, Pizza East, Cowshed and so on. This role was mostly overtaken by Zobler, who had the right eye to know which spot was preferable for which restaurant.
As for Sydell’s role, Zobler added: ‘We’ve acted as an editor, challenging and consolidating Nick’s vision. I kept reminding him that we were in the City of London – a lot of Soho House properties and clubs take their cues from the English countryside, so I pushed him to make it more urbane and gentlemanly, to pick up on the building’s banking heritage’.
London’s fundamental industrial built reality, which has contributed in the past decade to the creation of the imaginary of the new ‘boutique hotel’ concept, creating a worldwide service able to offer luxury to its customers and still keep the ‘lost’ traditional side of the city in mind, is well personified by the Ned and its services. Offering rooms and suites, a gastronomic variety, spa and grooming service, events spaces was not enough: a membership is highly suggested to have the chance to enjoy the several extra experiences proposed.
Something often perceived as ‘cold’ and sterile when observing modern and futuristic luxurious buildings created in the European-American metropolis, is the opposite feeling found in the Ned London. An architecture which speaks of home and comfort, described in detail by the senior in-house Soho House designer who curated the space, Alice Lund.
According to Lund, the aim was to create an interior that felt historic rather than new. The big scale of objects and rooms in the hotel is one of the most impressive feature conveyed, transforming in the building process real managers’ offices into what today are called the heritage suites, keeping all the existing panelling, and cornicing and details from when it was a bank. The pink hammam, with its inherent massage rooms is also opulent and oversized, being a good match to the award-nominated bar in the basement of the building, situated in what used to be the main vault of the bank and retaining many unusual features from its original use.
In the metropole centre represented today, like in the past, but always on a growing scale, by the city of London, having an experience similar to the one proposed by the Ned represents an act of peace, quietness and reflection. There any individual, either just passing by or being a loyal member, can sense that atmosphere and keep it as a reminder of what a city is made of: its past, present and future, all of it just one step away from home.
27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ,