A year and a half ago, London-based interior designer David Carter—known for his artistic spin on grandiosity—turned his historic East London Queen Anne into a wild, charming and totally fantastical b&b for fashion and design-related travelers. “It’s not trying to be a conventional hotel,” says David. “We’re drawing artsy types and people who really love design—people who love the idea of seeing something different with lots of personality. Usually staying at a hotel is such a terribly boring and soulless experience. Here, you’re meeting a human being. It’s a real experience.” David, who has owned the perpetually evolving four-story townhouse (built in 1717) for 12 years, says he’s had to turn away hundreds by the week. “There are lots of people who don’t care about having a 40-inch plasma tv in their room or a spa. Here, it’s about more elusive things, like ambiance and warmth and personality. A lot of people are specifically looking for that. It’s the antidote to things that are over-marketed and over-branded but ultimately kind of shallow, because they’re driven by commercial interest. We’ll never be a commercial success.” Maybe not, but if you’re lucky enough to snag one of the two rooms, you’ll also get to hang out with David, who lives at 40 Winks. “I’m like part of the furniture.”
There are only two rooms for rent. Since part of Carter’s 40 Winks philosophy is about making it accessible (even if it’s not always available), the prices are shockingly reasonable: the single room starts at $140, the double at $200. If you can’t get a room next time you’re in London but want to experience the surreal charm of 40 Winks, check out the weekly bedtime story nights, involving pjs, storytelling and musical performances.
[photos by Aliona Adrianova]