This review of my recent stay in The Ned may be slightly biased, seeing as I work for the company. However I must say, the experience is entirely different when staying there as a guest. Of course it helps to have friends in high places, i.e. Reception and Guest Relations, who will usually do what they can so that you can really get the best out of your stay. However I’m confident that even if I were staying as a member of the public, I would have enjoyed my night there immensely.
My best friend Kiki and I were scheduled for a package called a Sunday Spruce & Sleepover since Sunday 29th April. Due to financial reasons mainly, we ended up rescheduling it three times so didn’t actually end up staying until Sunday 15th July, the Sunday just gone. It was originally supposed to be for Kiki’s birthday, then we had to move it to 20th May, then 24th June, which ended up being my birthday weekend, until it finally ended up being scheduled for last weekend. The package includes the hotel room, Sunday Lunch for two along with a bottle of house wine, which I substituted for a bottle of prosecco, £50 credit to spend in the spa as well as breakfast for two the next morning. It all comes to £350 in total, so £175 per person. Definitely worth it in my opinion. As it was a package, I did not receive a staff discount on it, but the price is more than reasonable for what you get, and I was definitely well taken care of by my lovely colleagues.
We arrived at the hotel at around quarter past one on Sunday. Check-in time is 3pm, so our room still wasn’t ready. However after being told that I had been upgraded to a Heritage Room from a Cosy Room (three room categories above – a really big deal!), I didn’t really care if I had to wait until 4pm to check in. Sunday Lunch was amazing. It was buffet style for both starters and dessert, however you had to order your main course. And ooh what a main it was, but we’ll get onto that later. I had initially planned to stuff my face with loads of Canadian lobsters, which was one of the starters on offer. However the lobsters are MASSIVE and the plates they give you are kind of small. Way too small for these lobsters anyway. So there was literally no way to fill your plate with them without making it look like you planned to empty out the whole restaurant. Not that I’m usually particularly fussed about this to be honest. However, after placing the one lobster on my plate, along with several pieces of sushi because I looove sushi, it was so much effort to open up the damn lobster once I sat down to eat, that I just couldn’t be bothered to have anymore. It was definitely tasty, especially with the hollandaise sauce that they were serving it with, but it was almost too much work for what you got in the end. Oh and the oysters…ew! Now I love me some seafood, like LOVE it, but oysters are fucking gross. I’d never tried them before. Well actually I tried one a couple of weeks ago while I was drunk, and clearly I was more drunk than I thought I was because I actually thought it tasted good at the time. I was wrong. Oysters do not taste good. They are disgusting.
The main though….ooh what can I say!? I ordered the half roast Banham chicken, served with pigs in blankets and bread sauce, and of course gravy. I’d never tried bread sauce before, but I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think it would taste quite as good as it did to be completely honest. The chicken was succulent and immensely tasty and I’d never seen such a colossal Yorkshire pudding in my life! Like seriously, it was almost the size of my head! I’d only had gross Yorkshire puddings in the past, served in my boarding school along with the rest of their slop. So I was a little hesitant about trying it. But I was very impressed, as I was with the rest of food, although I must say the roast potatoes could have been better. They were a little tough, and the quality just wasn’t on the same level as the rest of the meal. Kiki ordered the roast pork belly with crackling and apple sauce. I tried a little with the apple sauce, as I was curious, and I must say this dish was, in fact, on par with mine. I just wish I could have finished it all, but it was such a hefty portion that I just couldn’t force myself, as much as I wanted to. Especially when it came to that chicken. I almost cried seeing it being taken away from the table half finished.
We just about had enough room for dessert (of course!), so up we were again and back at the bar, where all the dishes that were part of the buffet were being displayed. I had a slice of Victoria sponge, a slice of red velvet cake and I picked up one of the cake pops that were on offer. The Victoria sponge and red velvet cake were beautiful, but if you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, then it can be pretty difficult to fuck up two tasty treats such as these. However I unfortunately did not get to sample the cake pop, because I just could not eat anymore at the time, so I put it in the fridge in our hotel room. But then I had work the next day, and still didn’t feel like it when we were leaving, so I reluctantly let Kiki have it along with the two she had for herself. As much as I wanted mine, because I’ve never tried cake pops before either, I don’t always have such a sweet tooth these days. However Kiki most considerately assured me that she would call me when she was eating it so that she could let me know what it tasted like. The bitch.
Anyway, lunch was amazing. One of my colleagues in Reception had called me to say my room was ready, so we went to collect our keys and popped up there quickly. Because we did have to wait quite a while to order our mains, we were cutting it pretty fine for our spa treatments at this point, which were booked at 3.30pm. But I just had to take a look at this room. Although I had been given a tour of quite a few of these rooms before, there was just something different about seeing the incredible super king-size bed and knowing that you were going to be sleeping it, looking at the enormous television whilst knowing that you were going to be watching it and staring besottedly at the inviting bathtub in the bathroom and knowing I’d be getting all up in it with some suds later. Which I did. It was all I could do to stop myself from clambering up onto the bed and jumping up and down like a little kid.
After a quick once-over of our mini palace, we headed downstairs to the spa for our pedicures. They treatments I had booked were called the Ultimate Cowshed pedicures; they were 75 minutes long and included a scalp and shoulder massage as well. The actual treatment was amazing, and I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have all the horrible dead skin sloughed off my neglected heels, but I was a little disappointed to see that the lovely “Pink Fizz” colour I had chosen had started to chip away by later that evening. Although this may have been partly my fault, as I did forget that I had shellac on my toes already, so they had to squeeze in a removal for me, meaning my therapist probably rushed the colour portion of the appointment. Booking extra time for a removal, or removing the shellac beforehand myself, is something that would have been embedded in my brain whilst I was working as a Customer Care Coordinator for Cowshed when I was on the Beauty Team. However, having been over a year since those days, apparently these things just don’t occur to me anymore. Ohh well, at least my feet feel soft and pleasant again. Well, as pleasant as feet can feel I guess.
After a while of letting our tootsies dry, Kiki and I changed into our swimming gear and went back down to the spa to have a swim in the indoor pool. The pool wasn’t quite as warm as I had hoped, but after thrashing around for a couple of minutes, it soon became quite comfortable. The sauna, steam room and hammam were much better though. Especially the steam room. Kiki kept saying that we should have put leave in conditioner in our hair beforehand, so we could have a nice steam and a hair treatment at the same time. Crazy she might be, but she definitely had a point there. A nice face mask wouldn’t have gone amiss either. Hmmm, there’s always next time. Surprise surprise, it was my first experience in a hammam as well, but it was not all it was cracked it to be compared to the steam room and sauna. It essentially just felt like a really warm room with a little bit of steam. We were only in there for a few minutes right at the end, before having another quick steam and departing.
When we went back to the room, there was a bottle of prosecco and a nice little chocolate mousse waiting for us as a Happy Belated Birthday to us both! This was thanks to my pal Darren in Guest Relations. Like I said, friends in high places, wink wink. So we didn’t really do anything after that but chill, drink prosecco and watch Love Island before falling asleep in the giant cloud of bliss. Despite being up watching TV and talking until 4am, I don’t think I’ve had such an amazing sleep since…well since the last time I stayed at The Ned!
So overall, an amazing stay. The Ned really is a great hotspot for the high flyers who can afford it regularly. I am sad to say does not apply to me, at least not yet. Although the property is frequented by quite a few white prejudiced hotel guests, who were staring at me and my friend and clearly wondering who let the niggas in, this did not matter as the hotel staff were very welcoming in contrast. Ohh yeah, I’m being serious. This was probably the only slight dampener on the experience; one old lady was even talking about me and my outfit right in front of me, obviously not too impressed. I was wearing a pretty short backless dress, but so fucking what? It’s the weekend, it’s 30 degrees and oh yeah, I can wear what the fuck I like. I didn’t let this ruin my mood too much though. I must admit, it did ruffle my feathers a little bit at first. But it is a five star hotel in the centre of London, so unfortunately these kinds of visitors are to be expected. I just say fuck them. Fuck them, and fuck anybody else who has that mentality. They are not worth any of the energy I would usually muster up to react in anger, especially when this is energy I could be using to do productive things to better myself instead. Sorry for all the F-bombs, but as a black woman this kind of prejudice is obviously a subject I am particularly passionate about.
I got this kind of vibe when we went up to the roof for a hot minute as well on Sunday evening. If you know anything about The Ned, then you might know that The Roof Bar is one of the main reason that most people want to go there. I don’t quite understand it myself, because London is filled with other rooftop bars and restaurants, some of which you can smoke shisha in as well. Way more fun than what we have going on at The Ned, in my personal opinion. But some of these people just make no sense, you know. It was just funny, because this particular part of The Ned is a members only area, so is exclusive to members of The Ned and hotel guests staying in certain room categories. Because of this, so many people were so desperate to get into The Roof Bar. We just changed the rules in April so access would be limited to only certain hotel guests, in order to accommodate the increasing amount of members, as it isn’t the biggest space. As a result, my team and I have found ourselves dealing with a whole heap of complaints from the unlucky guests who won’t be able to access the roof during their stay, insisting that this was “the only reason they booked in the first place”. Well that’s a waste of money just to floss for the ‘gram. So it was funny to see that Kiki didn’t give a rat’s ass about the roof. I made the mistake of forgetting to tell her that you can’t take pictures up there, because those are the rules for the members only spaces. It’s a Soho House thing; it’s the exact same in all the other Houses as well. But she took a couple of photos and was abruptly told that she couldn’t do that up there. So I guess all the guests that do plan to floss for the ‘gram or their Snapchat are going to be bitterly disappointed. We couldn’t get a seat on the roof though. It wasn’t packed, but all the tables and chairs were occupied, leaving us no choice but to head back down. When I asked her what she thought of the space later on and she confirmed that she didn’t think much of it, these exact words were her explanation: “It’s too hot, there’s nowhere to sit and you can’t take pictures.” I can’t argue with that Kiki, I cannot argue with that.