In trendy East London lies the elusive and eccentric boutique hotel 40 Winks. It is actually the home of one of the world’s most celebrated Interior Designers – Mr David Carter. With only 2 guest bedrooms (and Mr Carter occupying the third), 40 Winks became the first micro-boutique hotel in the world and has gained so much attention since Mr Carter opened the doors of his East London home to overnight guests back in 2009.
40 Winks regularly gets booked out weeks in advance, often by celebrities and models, but also by ‘ordinary’ folk who are intrigued to learn more about the mysterious 40 Winks and David Carter. 40 Winks is cosy and eclectic, enchanting yet seductive, but most of all it’s an utterly unique and absolutely memorable place!
How did 40 Winks Hotel come about?
The lavishly embellished and quirky home of Mr Carter had been one of the most popular celebrity and fashion locations in London for years, frequently hosting high profile fashion shoots and advertising campaigns. His extraordinary fairytale-like house fascinated the models and photographers who came to shoot here. They would often mention to Mr Carter that they would love to stay in his house overnight. So in 2009 the idea of 40 Winks came to life. Mr Carter made the two bedrooms in the top floor of his house into guest rooms, and 40 Winks naturally became an overnight success.
40 Winks has since been featured on numerous internationally acclaimed travel, fashion and lifestyle magazines. Vogue even described it as ‘the most beautiful small hotel in the world’ and ‘the most charming hotel in England’.
About 40 Winks:
Mr Carter’s house is totally eccentric but absolutely fascinating. The only way I can describe it is that it feels like you have stepped into the world of Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland when you are here! It is decorated in a very flamboyant manner with a distinctively delirious yet utterly classy ambience.
40 Winks is located on your average unassuming East London street, but entering through Mr Carter’s front door feels totally like entering the wardrobe into Narnia. When you enter you leave the outside world behind and enter the fantasy world of Mr Carter’s imagination. Yet from the outside of the house you would have absolutely no idea this magical place existed.
40 Winks is far more than just somewhere to lay your head for the night – it is a unique and completely immersive experience. It is especially popular with those interested in fashion and art, or those like myself who despise bland and soulless chain hotels and look for something different. 40 Winks is also very popular with famous models and film stars who enjoy the privacy of 40 Winks and keep coming back. They feel like it is a home away from home and somewhere they like to come and escape for a few days. This is exactly how Mr Carter wanted it to be like – he wants his guests to feel comfortable and totally relaxed here. There is a lovely homely feeling to 40 Winks, but with only 2 rooms here it gets booked up fast! Click here to visit the 40 Winks website.
About Mr Carter:
As one of the world’s most influential Interior Designers, Mr Carter has a fascinating imagination. He is very hands-on with the running of 40 Winks and when you arrive he personally greets you and welcomes you into his house, transporting you into his imagination.
Mr Carter is a very pleasant, smart and witty character and is very approachable. He also makes plenty time to chat to his guests and get to know them which only adds to the fantastic experience here. Conversations with him are very interesting and he can offer you plenty of very good recommendations of bars and restaurants to visit in the local area.
As you enter into 40 Winks it may take you a couple of seconds for your eyes to adjust to the low-level light. The wood-panelled walls in the hallway are dark which immediately brings the exciting sense of mystery upon you. You’ll see a row of beautiful children’s shoes and vintage ballet shoes lined up on the side and you’ll be asked to leave your shoes in the hallway. Mr Carter wants his guests to feel relaxed and at home straight away. He wants them to slow down and unwind, fully immerse themselves in the experience here, and to forget about the outside world.
Entering the living room is almost like being inside an interactive museum. It is outrageously fascinating and colourful and beautiful to look at. Mr Carter likes to call it his opium den. The black divan is covered with colourful cushions and there are Oriental pictures and ornaments dotted around the place. A fabulous dog statue sits by the fireplace and there are a variety of vintage toys and interesting objects to peruse.
The Music Room
Located on the first floor is the impressive Music Room, also known as The Lady Gaga Room. Fashion and art is present in all corners of the house, but particularly in this beautiful and large light-filled room. The underlying style is elegant and quintessentially British, of course with a giant touch of Mr Carter’s magic on top.
An interesting pom pom light fixture hangs from the ceiling and a fascinating spread of cushions lie across the divan. A delicate baby violin lies on the windowseat in between the initials GAGA, whereas 2 dolls lie on the other windowsills. Buddha ornaments and a very impressive giant intricate headdress occupy the side table. And of course, a beautiful portrait of Lady Gaga stands in the corner next to a dressmaker’s mannequin.
Guest Bedrooms at 40 Winks:
Both of the guest bedrooms are located on the top floor, along with the shared bathroom. One bedroom is a single and the other is a double, therefore a maximum of 3 guests can stay at 40 Winks at any one time.
The bedrooms do not have televisions as Mr Carter wants his guests to have a break from normal life and really unwind and embrace the moment when they stay here. There is wifi available though so don’t worry!
Facing out onto the main road is the Double Bedroom. The beautiful natural light beams stream in through the windows in the day, and the trees outside provide you with lots of privacy. The room is extremely spacious and the light colours give a nice airy feeling. It is fabulously vintage here, with timeless travel trunks and a quaint armchair and lamp in the corner. The traditional mirrored beauty table, pom poms in the fireplace and the hanging rail for clothes fits in perfectly, and the remarkable pops of colour in the rug complement the room so well. The window shutters do a great job of blocking out any light and noise from outside.
The linen on the bed is made of the softest Egyptian cotton and the pillows were the most comfortable I had ever laid my head on. A fabulous collection of interesting books await on the bedside table for your reading, including “Why a man should be well-dressed”, “The book of Modern Manners” and “Dangerous Women: the guide to modern life”.
Looking out onto the back of the property is the ever so cute single bedroom. It is absolutely no less spectacular than the double bedroom! The single bedroom has so much character and is so cosy and the lighting is very atmospheric. It also has a lovely fireplace and beauty table as well as a fabulously vintage chair to relax in. The books on the windowsill include biographies by Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
The bathroom is shared between both bedrooms and is probably the most incredible bathroom I have ever seen in my life. The lighting is so atmospheric and romantic and the luxurious hand painted gold leaf walls also add so much elegance and character. The freestanding roll top bathtub is spectacular and the water to fill the bath up comes out of the gold lion’s mouth – it is delightfully fabulous.
There is no shower – again because Mr Carter wants his guests to really relax and unwind and be present in the moment. Showering is just a motion and something we do quickly just to get clean, but bathing takes time. There are plenty of luxurious bathroom products in the cupboard behind the mirror that are available to use.
Mr Carter’s Bedroom
Mr Carter’s Bedroom is located on the first floor adjacent to The Music Room. Out of respect I didn’t go inside, but he leaves his bedroom door open during the day so you can see inside as you walk past. It is very grand and very Marie Antoinette, and I just loved the dog on the bed and the swan in the fireplace.
A Continental Breakfast is served in the kitchen which is located on the lower level in the basement. There is a variety of teas and coffee, as well as a delightful spread of cereals, juices and toast available.
The kitchen is tastefully decorated with lots of fresco artwork handpainted on the walls. Cherubs, religious statues and candlesticks can be found in every corner here. There is also a large fireplace here with a lion statue inside, and many ornaments organised in a beautiful manner. Mr Carter likes to play classical music down here, which is very relaxing and soothing. There is also a lovely garden outside if you wish to relax out there.
How much does 40 Winks cost for a night?
It costs £185 a night to stay in the double room and £115 a night for the single room. Guests also have the option to book out the whole top floor to themselves for £280 if they wish. Breakfast is included in the price.
Can you visit 40 Winks without staying overnight?
If you are unable to stay at 40 Winks but would still really like to visit, Mr Carter organises private tours plus a cuppa and a chat for £10 per person. Just email email@example.com to arrange (prior booking is mandatory). Alternatively you can enquire about Mr Carter’s Bedtime Story Nights to experience 40 Winks without staying overnight.
Bedtime Story Nights at 40 Winks:
Hosted by Mr Carter every few weeks is the infamous Bedtime Story Nights, a sort of adult pyjama party evening filled with cocktails, wild storytelling and plenty of entertainment. Pyjamas are mandatory, and the more seductive the better so I am told. The Bedtime Stories Nights started as a way for people to experience 40 Winks if they are unable to stay there, but they have become incredibly popular and are even often listed as one of the must-do things when in London! There are about 50 tickets for sale for each event and they often sell out within the first few hours, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on their mailing list.
Final thoughts about 40 Winks Boutique Hotel:
40 Winks is absolutely delightful. It is a place you can go to escape and get lost in your imagination. Somewhere that instantly feels like home. A place that takes you back in time and leaves you instantly wanting more. Whether for solo travellers, friends or couples old and young, 40 Winks appeals to everyone but especially to those interested in fashion, art and design. So next time you’re in London and fancy staying somewhere a little different, be sure to head out east and check out 40 Winks boutique hotel. Although you’ll need to contact them in advance as they are often booked up weeks in advance! Click here to head to their website!
If you have never stayed in boutique hotels before and are interested to learn more about them, check out my article ‘Why you should stay in independent boutique hotels’. Click here to read!
Location and how to reach 40 Winks:
40 Winks is located on Mile End Road in Stepney, East London. As it’s E1 postcode suggests, 40 Winks is in a super convenient location just a short walk from cosmopolitan Whitechapel and Bethnal Green. Click here to see the location on Google maps.
It stands in a row of 4 beautiful Queen Anne townhouses dating back over 300 years and is thought to be one of the oldest remaining townhouses in London. There is only a tiny sign below the doorbell that states it is 40 Winks, otherwise from the outside you would have no idea that this magical world exists inside.
40 Winks is very convenient for public transport. You can use your contactless bank card instead of an Oyster card, just remember to tap in and out.
40 Winks hotel is a 3 minute walk from Stepney Green Underground station (on the District Line) or less than a 10 minute walk to Whitechapel Station for the Hammersmith & City line, District line and London Overground line. The Elizabeth Line (formerly Crossrail) will also operate from Whitechapel, making it very quick and easy to get anywhere in London from here.
The Santander bikes are also available at Stepney Green station if you feel like getting around by bike.
What to do in East London:
Sunday is the best day to explore the local area. There are several nearby famous markets that are all open on Sundays, including:
Old Spitalfields Market – trendy longstanding market with upmarket boutique stores open daily, but with a special atmosphere on Sundays.
Columbia Road Flower Market – on Sundays from 8am-3pm Columbia Road is transformed into an oasis of flowers. The street has 60 independent shops, a rarity in today’s modern world, so make sure to stop by in the cafes and stores in between browsing for flowers.
Brick Lane Market – there’s a great atmosphere down here as people pursue the stalls in the market searching for all sorts of weird and wonderful second-hand steals. Street performers also perform and you can stop in at one of the many restaurants and cafes here afterwards. Despite Brick Lane being one of the coolest streets in London it still remains a fairly off the beaten path part of London and definitely needs to be explored! Click here to discover more off the beaten path locations and things to do in London!
Tours and Museums:
Whitechapel is just down the road from 40 Winks. It was here where Jack the Ripper infamously killed most of his victims. You can take Jack the Ripper walking tours where you get to visit the sites of the murders. Starting at 7pm each night and costing just £10 per person, they are a great way to learn about the history of this local area. Click here for more info.
The Royal London Hospital is also located in Whitechapel. This was where Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man lived and died. You can see a full size replica of his skeleton at The Royal London Hospital Museum. The museum is free to visit, however donations are gladly appreciated. The museum is open 10am-4pm Tuesday-Friday.
UK’s best cinema is next door to 40 Winks!:
Genesis Cinema (pictured below) is just a couple of metres from 40 Winks and is voted the best cinema in the UK, with viewings for under £5 during the week! The art-deco boutique cinema is on the site of a former music hall dating back from the 1800’s and even features footrests, sofas and an in-screen bar!
You’ll never struggle to find somewhere you like for food around here. East London is packed with restaurants, from modest ones to Michelin Star ones. Below are just a selection of my favourites – there are many more so make sure to get out and explore!
40 Winks sits right in the heart of the vibrant and multi-cultural East End. Nowadays the largest community in this area is the Bengali and South Asian community. Therefore there are many excellent curry houses within walking distance of 40 Winks!
Brick Lane (a 20 minute walk away) is the most famous place to go for a curry around here and features many restaurants serving excellent Bengali and Indian cuisine at very competitive rates. If you do stroll down Brick Lane, bear in mind the staff standing outside will be doing their best to get you to eat in their restaurant, and they are very persuasive! Whilst many tourists love to eat on Brick Lane as it is such an exciting experience walking down this ‘curry mile’, residents often prefer to visit the curry houses a little bit away from Brick Lane.
One particular curry house that definitely deserves a mention is Tayyabs, located just off Whitechapel Road. This no-frills Punjabi restaurant has been open since 1972 and it’s famous award-winning lamb chops are some of the best in the capital! Tayyabs is inexpensive, big and hectic, but their food is absolutely top-notch. Every year they get busier and busier so make sure to book a table beforehand, otherwise you can often be waiting up to an hour to be seated! Guests can also bring their own bottles.
If you fancy something a little more upmarket head to popular Dishoom located on Boundary Street in Shoreditch. They serve upscale Indian street food served in a fantastic setting. Dishoom is consistently voted as one of the best places in East London to go for food and serves fantastic breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Dishoom pays homage to the elegant Iranian cafes in Bombay and the fantastic variety of food in Bombay.
Pizza East, located on Shoreditch High Street is a very popular place to go for Italian food. Delicious wood oven pizzas are served here, as well as antipasti and a variety of other Italian dishes, and the prices are very reasonable. You can also pop into the Deli for a snack of Italian cured meats and cheeses.
For some great latino food head to Andina in Shoreditch that serves fantastic Peruvian food. Nearby rooftop restaurant Sushisamba in Liverpool Street also offers great latino and Japanese food and a fantastic view of The Gherkin.
Boutique Hotels in East London:
East London is fast becoming the area of choice for people looking to spend some time in the capital. Infact, new boutique hotels are popping up in East London every week. 40 Winks however remains a firm favourite and a timeless classic. Click here to discover why East London’s hotels are the coolest place to stay in the capital!
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