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Friday 5 March 2010

The 40 Winks Hotel

If you haven't seen any pictures of 40 Winks, you may find it hard to understand why people are waxing lyrical about a two-bedroom boutique hotel in East London. But "the most beautiful small hotel in the world" (according to German Vogue) is breath-taking, and anyone with the faintest appreciation for interiors will fall in love with it. Sian and I were lucky enough to take a peek around the hotel and chat to owner and interior designer David Carter.

40 Winks is David's home, and was already in use as a unique location for fashion and celebrity shoots. But when he started getting requests from people wanting to stay overnight (and his interior design work took a hit thanks to the recession) he opened up his house as a hotel. Just under a year later, 40 Winks is receiving international guests and being booked up five months in advance. Impressive, especially when you consider that's almost entirely through word of mouth.

But the most surprising thing about 40 Winks is it's lack of exclusivity. Though most of the guests are in the creative and design industries, anyone is welcome to stay. And with rates starting from just £90 per night, they could afford to - though David could easily charge twice as much. "There's a pay cheque at the end of it, but I don't do it for the financial reward", David told us over cups of Earl Grey. "All these people keep the house alive".

And that's certainly true. Magical-looking and surreal as 40 Winks is, it still feels warm, cosy and lived-in. There's a small bar in the lounge, but no bartender - guests just make their own drinks and are trusted to pay for them honestly. There's no room service, but guests are welcome to make full use of the kitchen.

Staying at 40 Winks, I'd imagine it would feel like being the guest in someone's very large home - it just doesn't have the generic, and almost clinical, atmosphere that you get in most hotels. You wouldn't find this little guy in the Hilton:

I don't think I've gasped, oohed and aahed as much in any other building. There are so many highlights, but I fell in love with the dark and sexy bathroom:

And the attention to detail is just perfect, as is the balance between slightly shabby and designer luxury. Fornasetti porcelain and secondhand bits and bobs (yes, that is the technical term) are all part of the decor:

With quirky charm by the bucket-load, 40 Winks is the setting to some pretty amazing events - perfect if you want to visit the hotel but can't get your hands on a room. We especially like the look of Tart at 40 Winks, a vintage afternoon tea with a difference. And the Bedtime Story Nights are the only valid excuse you'll have to wear glamourous pyjamas and curl up with a teddy bear in public. These events book up hours after being announced, so get yourself on the mailing list if you're interested.

Minutes after leaving, I was already plotting my escape back to 40 Winks. So much prettiness, charm and magic in one small building.

For more information on events email [email protected] and for reservation enquiries (good luck!) email [email protected]. You can see more photos here.


  1. Beautiful photos ladies :)

  2. All courtesy of Sian and her amazing camera :-)

  3. Heh. Unfortunately, these aren't all mine. The close-ups are, the rest are courtesy of 40 Winks.

    But it's the camera doing all the work. I just point and click.

  4. It's a Canon 20D, with a macro lens at the moment - hence all the close-up shots.

    It's such a lovely hotel, I'm not sure my camera even does it justice. Hard to believe that it's just steps away from Stepney Green tube...

  5. The only downside is the fact that he lives there, so you are really staying at someones house! Not that comfortable for me unfortunately.

  6. I think that's the same with most hotels, isn't it? Certainly B&Bs. It doesn't feel like you're in someone's house, it's still got a hotel feel about it. The mix is just right.


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