The Ned is moving the City of London’s centre of gravity
The 'urban resort' is the first collaboration between Andrew Zobler and Nick Jones, red-hot hoteliers with a gift for attracting the crème de la crème
Don’t even think about calling the Ned a business hotel. Yes, behind its grand 1920s Midland Bank facade, it’s the size of a convention centre property, at 97,000m². And yes, it’s located smack in the middle of the City, London’s financial and business core.
But a business hotel is the very last thing the Ned’s founders set out to create. Based on repeated warnings from their handlers, they seem to consider those two words nothing short of anathema.
The Ned is the first collaboration between Andrew Zobler and Nick Jones, red-hot hoteliers with a gift for attracting the crème de la crème of the creative class.
Jones founded Soho House, while Zobler is CE of Sydell Group, which develops and operates acclaimed properties such as the Nomad in New York and the Line (in Los Angeles and Washington, DC).
An urban resort is a more appropriate term, they say. And yet, when it opened on April 27, the Ned was the best business hotel in town — make no bones about it.
The project is massive in both size and investment: 252 rooms in 13 categories; seven public restaurants; a private members’ club; three bars; a rooftop pool; six meeting and event spaces; a barbershop; a women’s hair studio; salons; a fitness club and a spa.
While the team declined to comment on their total budget, the recent restoration of the glitzy Corinthia, another sprawling London hotel, cost a cool $490m. And despite the prowess of both hoteliers, neither was willing to tackle the project alone.
Zobler says lifestyle hotels used to be synonymous with the idea of "boutique".
"Small meant better. More intimate." He sees that changing. "Growing in scale means you can offer a larger range of amenities."
"Nobody wants to stay in the same boring business hotels with the same restaurant menus and the same ugly awnings," says Jack Ezon of Ovation Travel, whose company books at least 30,000 corporate room nights in London annually.
"You want a cool place with a great vibe that gets you in a good mood, especially if you’re entertaining. And if you can combine that with big, nice rooms, it’s even better."
You want a cool place with a great vibe that gets you in a good mood, especially if you’re entertaining. And if you can combine that with big, nice rooms, it’s even better.
The Ned, he says, ticks those boxes. Entertaining will be easy with eight restaurants that include a sister to Cecconi’s in Mayfair; a Jewish deli; a Parisian-inspired café; and several spaces that will be for guests’ use only, like a bar in the bank building’s old vault.
"For business travellers, the Ned is a game-changer," says Ezon, estimating that 60%-80% of occupants will tick the business box on their immigration forms.
While there are public spaces and the bulk of the restaurants are open to the public, a private membership club gives the Ned an elite bent.
Included in the membership cost (which starts at £1,500) is access to a series of private spaces like a marble-clad gym.
The hotel’s position in the City will force it to open its network beyond the traditional editorial, art and fashion types.
"What we’re really hoping for is a blend of people," says Zobler, who adds that "getting the alchemy right" will require a diverse mix of business travellers, start-up entrepreneurs, transient locals, leisure types and beyond.
Zobler hopes bringing the cool-kid cred to the City will help change the neighbourhood even more. "The centre of gravity in London has really moved east. You used to want to stay in the West End, and went to the City just to do business. Now that so much has moved east to Shoreditch and beyond, the City has actually become a great hub.
"Financial districts tend to have these old, incredible buildings, and people have a yearning to be in places that have a sense of history," Zobler says.
Plus, good property deals bring in a creative, regenerative energy. "In the coming years, you’ll see the City’s office spaces — they’re reasonably priced and well connected [to public transport] — being filled up by interesting tech and advertising firms," Jones predicts.