Can you imagine staying in vibrant, bustling London for a week and feeling reluctant each time you leave your hotel for the day? No. That would be ridiculous. London has it all. Surely no one wants to be cooped up in a hotel all day.
What if every time you entered your hotel you somehow time-traveled to the glittering 1920s — complete with a live jazz band, martinis and fashionable people — a magical place where you can live out your Downton Abbey fantasies? You might do something crazy, like spend all day in the hotel.
What can I say? The Ned has that affect on people.
The colossal, former Midland Bank headquarters (designed in 1924 by Edwin Lutyens) was sitting vacant for nearly a decade when a group of hoteliers stepped in with an equally enormous vision. They created a 252-room, nine-restaurant, spa hotel that somehow feels like a boutique experience. From the vintage light fixtures throwing a soft glow on the velvet sofas to the busy, white-aproned maids polishing the marble floors, every inch of this place has been carefully designed and executed.
If you follow my Instagram stories, you know how enamored I became with this hotel over the course of a week. They thought of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and then some. Where do I start?
The bathroom had luxuriously heated floors and fluffy, white robes for those cold London mornings. Also, you’ll find every amenity known to man: Shaving kit, Marvis toothpaste and brush, organic body scrubs, hair treatments, dryer and straightening iron — even a few unmentionables you be happy to have.
In the bedroom, there are floor-length, blackout draperies and soft, antique rugs. A make-your-own cocktail bar with artisanal ingredients. A rotary phone. A 1920s-era radio that charges electronics. And in our room: a crib, diapers, wipes and deluxe baby products. Which brings me to the question I receive most often these days: “Is it family-friendly?”
So, my ideal lodging for traveling with a baby falls into two categories:
#1 Renting a home where the baby has his own space to sleep (even a large closet will do!) so we don’t have to tiptoe around in the dark; and
#2 Staying in a hotel where we can go out to dinner on-site while watching the baby sleep on our WiFi-enabled monitor.
The Ned is the best version of #2 I’ve ever come across. We went out to dinner at a different restaurant every night. After dinner we’d go to one of the many bars for drinks or dancing. We bar-hopped in our hotel. It was SO MUCH fun. And when I say we ate in every night, I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill hotel food. For example, reubens and champagne at the New York-style deli Zobler’s.
Tuna sashimi and Korean BBQ lamb chops at the Asian eatery Kaia.
Martinis and pizzas in an actual bank vault, the Vault Bar.
And on our last night we had steaks at the stunning rooftop restaurant, The Ned Upstairs.
That restaurant, the Vault Bar and another two spots are open only to hotel guests and spa members. Which is a good thing because Londoners are dying to get into The Ned. We actually passed a line of people trying to get into the Vault Bar as if we were celebrities going through the velvet ropes.
The only place that is not kid-friendly is the indoor pool and spa. I was bummed about that at first, but then I snuck out for a massage and now I get it. Total serenity. Baby-free.
The Ned is a standout hotel; but, at $200 a night, you could certainly find a more affordable option in what is an already expensive city. For us, it felt like we got to go on a fabulous date every night without hiring a babysitter. We time traveled back to pre-parenthood.
I hope you are working a little dapper into your life this week, meanwhile here are some fun links to distract you:
All photos courtesy of The Ned