The Ned is the remaking of a landmark. Holding its own between the Bank of England and St Paul's, the monumental old Midland Bank building has been completely overhauled, a fusty bowler-hatted boy given the Soho House makeover. Nine floors of high finance turned into a club, a hotel, restaurants, bars, a spa, a gym, a barber's - and a rooftop pool with views of the Shard, the Cheesegrater, and the London Eye.
It is grand on an almost preposterous scale; an edifice in Portland stone, designed by Sir Edwin 'Ned' Lutyens in the 1920s to impose and overwhelm. It is impossible not to be impressed by its new incarnation. Walk in and you can't help but look up in wonder. It is phenomenal. Great green verdite columns - 92 of them - soar up to the glass ceiling in the former banking hall, which has now been filled with eight restaurants, all open to the public and including Soho House's signature Cecconi's and the Malibu Kitchen with its raw bar.
The former raised stone reception has been covered and turned into a performance stage; a kind of bandstand for the City. How very Soho House. And yet - also very Soho House - it is not intimidating. The signature, buzzy-good-time atmosphere pervades, not least because everyone seems perfectly thrilled to be here. Imagine, investment bankers and finance CEOs, as excited as schoolboys, allowed at last to join the club which has, in the past, ruled 'no suits'.
And how delighted they must be by the Vault bar. Yes, the bank vault, quite literally; a metre-thick metal door opening up a hole in the wall, and within, a room lined with 3,600 safety deposit boxes, cold metal lit warmly now with vintage lighting, burr walnut finishes and retro furniture foraged from Wales and France, and reupholstered in rich fabrics the colour of family jewels and old money.
Behind the vault is a serious boozer and on the walls is the permanent 'Vault 100' installation - the FTSE 100 in reverse. Alluding to the ratio of 93 male CEOs to seven female heads are 100 paintings, 93 by women - Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread and Polly Morgan are some of the names that jump out. Revivifying and revitalising; next door are spaces more exciting than any boring old spa, including a barber parlour with old-school wallpaper, a faded-pink nail bar, a deep green swimming pool (there is a lot of pink and green at The Ned) and a lovely old library to pad about, somewhat incongruously, in dressing gown and slippers.
The dimensions may be huge but there is minute attention to detail. The 252 bedrooms are a mix of classic and right-now: great canopied beds and roll-top baths; Jazz Age bathrooms that are metro-tiled, their mirrors bevelled and age-spotted just so; a minibar full of cut glass and everything you need to mix your own Martini, if you don't have time to wait for room service. Jones, you suspect, does not.
This is definitely not another Soho House. For one thing, The Ned is a joint venture with the Sydell Group (which owns the NoMad in New York); without CEO Andrew Zobler or investor Ron Burkle, he adds, The Ned would never have happened. Jones only set foot in the building because he was 'being polite'; but it was love at first sight. Five years on, and they have created something quite extraordinary. If his other projects were his arthouse films, says Jones, then The Ned is his blockbuster.
Original article and images published by Conde Nast Traveler