It's been a couple of years since it was announced that Soho House and Sydell Group (the American hotel company) were partnering to transform the City's iconic Midland Bank building (above). Last night we were one of the first people to get a sneak preview of the space and see how the plans to turn it into a plush hotel are going.
First thing you need to know: it's going to be called The Ned. You might think this is a bit of an odd name (especially if you're from Scotland, where it means something else entirely) but it's actually the nickname of the original mind behind the building: Sir Edwin Lutyens. The prolific British architect who lived at the turn of the last century is also responsible for a good chunk of New Delhi.
The second thing you need to know: it's huge. Really huge. The ground floor – once the place where you'd go to pay in your cheques – is to be turned into a dining and drinking area with seven restaurants, which will seat up to 850 people. This area will be open to the public and it's pretty spectacular. As the building is Grade I-listed, the original features have been preserved, including towering green marble columns and original wooden banking counters. The whole space feels like you've stepped back in time 80 years or so. It's pretty magical.
Below the ground floor there are three basement levels, where you'll find the coolest part of the building: the vaults. The original vault door is still there and it's a remarkable hunk of metal, which featured in James Bond film 'Goldfinger'. It will lead into the basement bar of Ned's club – the members club part of the building. Beyond the vault door are several rooms with beautiful, floor-to-ceiling safety deposit boxes – all original. Start befriending some city slickers now, as you'll really want to have a nosey around here. Also in the basement will be a 20-metre pool, a hammam (Turkish bath), a gym and spa. Did we mention that this place is huge?
Then there are the seven floors above the ground floor, which will contain the 252 hotel rooms planned for the building. The fourth and fifth floors will also have event spaces – it's here that the directors used to have their private rooms, and the director's private lift has also been restored. And on the eighth floor: the roof terrace. From here you can see all of London's most iconic buildings: St Paul's, the London Eye, the Shard, and the Gherkin et al in the City. Plus there will be an infinity pool. Of course there will be.
As it stands, the place is still undergoing construction. It's due to open next spring, but what's clear is that the project is so large and impressive that it's going to be a hot ticket when it opens. While the very cool parts – namely the vault and the incredible view from the roof – will be for members only, the huge ground floor will become a dining out spot in its own right, and a chance for ordinary Londoners to get close up to this incredible building.
The Ned is due to open in spring 2017.