40 Winks: The Coolest Micro-Boutique Hotel in London?
When you step into Stepney Green you rarely expect to find yourself transported into an odd world: a mix of Marie Antoinette and Tim Burton. That is exactly what you find at 40 Winks. A hotel which aims to not just be a place to sleep, but part of the experience of visiting London. 40 Winks is the brainchild of its eccentric founder, owner, and permanent resident David Carter (pictured below). It may be odd, but it’s also extremely interesting and cosy. TEAM KOMPAS took a trip to 40 Winks last week and were given a tour of the 301-year old house by David himself.
40 Winks before 40 Winks
The moment we entered the building we knew this was a special place. There was a creative explosion of styles, colours, and accessories which made every room, corridor, and shelf feel unique. 40 Winks opened in March 2009, as a micro-boutique hotel (a term coined by David himself). He purchased the house 20 years ago, intending to use it as his family home. David delights in telling us that back then Stepney Green wasn’t full of hipster coffee shops and yoga studios. It was rougher: the only running water in the house was the rain falling through the massive hole in the ceiling.
David was uniquely qualified as an interior designer to make something of the house that he had bought. He fixed it up and gave it his own style. It became a frequent location for photo shoots, filming, and other fashion-related events. For years, he tells us, various film stars, models, and photographers would ask if it was possible to stay in the house. He never thought much of it until 2008. The financial meltdown hit his interior business and he started looking for other options. Why not open the place up to the public?
So David did open the hotel. In the 10 years since it opened, he’s gotten rave reviews from the likes of Elle, Vanity Fair, Vogue and others. For him, he tells us, 40 Winks is a passion, rather than just a business to turn a profit. 40 Winks can accommodate only 3 people at any one time, in one double bedroom and one single bedroom. The bathroom is shared between the two rooms. To say the rooms are exquisite would be an understatement. They are absolutely stunning, but without feeling stiff or intimidating. The rooms feel homey and cosy.
When we asked David about expanding, he said he’d thought of the idea. However, he doesn’t believe that he could retain what makes 40 Winks unique without doing it personally. Unfortunately, it seems, we might have to keep fighting for those 3 available places. You can book the single room for £120/night, the double for £195/night, or both for £295/night. A steal if you ask us, but you’ll have to be flexible on the dates.
All along, we wondered what kind of people stayed at 40 Winks. Stepney Green not exactly on the average tourist bucket list. David says that close to 95% of his guests come from overseas. He mentioned Brazil, the EU, Hong Kong, and the USA as some of the most common. For many people, says David, staying at 40 Winks is more than having a place to sleep, it’s part of the experience of coming to London. Many people actually plan their travels around the hotel’s availability. There are also Londoners who also stay at 40 Winks. The closest guest was a woman who lives right across the street from the hotel, who stayed at 40 Winks on her wedding night.
Events at 40 Winks
If you want to visit but you’re unable to book a night at 40 Winks, then you’re in luck. David also runs unique events on a monthly basis. The most famous is Bedtime Stories: fifty people put on their fanciest PJs and gather together in a room that seems too small to comfortably seat fifty people. David, however, assures us that it works, in a pinch. The stories themselves are told by professional performers. The night is full of mystery, intrigue, and prizes. The whole experience is immersive and collaborative, with the audience expected to participate fully. You can have the experience for a very modest sum of £30 a head. Make sure to keep an eye on the 40 Winks website, as tickets sell out within hours.
Finally, if you haven’t got the time, or haven’t managed to secure a ticket, you can arrange to visit the house for £10 a head. David will show you around, pour you a cup of tea and entertain you with stories of this eccentric house. You have to book that too, but it’s simpler and you get a tour of the house by the man himself.
40 Winks is one of London’s coolest hidden gems and something which has to be experienced to be understood. We would like to extend our thanks to David Carter for the interview and tour.[mc4wp_form id=”1182”]