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By Christine Pemberton

You have to love a hotel that prides itself on what it does not have. To quote their own words " there’s no marble in the lobby (in fact, there is no lobby)." And just in case you felt like a gym or a flatscreen TV or a whirlpool bath, no. Not happening. So, if you are in the market for a vanilla-bordering-on-the-bland hotel experience, then we suggest you pass on 40 Winks, a boutique hotel in London's East End that has been described as "the most beautiful small hotel in the world" by German Vogue. But there's still no lobby.

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40 Winks is the home, the brainchild, the showpiece of David Carter, a celebrated interior designer who eschews the mundane, and offers his guests the absolute opposite of a run of the mill stay in a run of the mill hotel. For let us be clear - this is no ordinary hotel. Staying at 40 Winks is beyond a hotel stay. It is an experience. And one with more than a touch of whimsy, let's be clear about this.

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David Carter's eclectic home in the east end of London is one of a row of Queen Anne town houses, built in 1717. For well over a decade his home has been a favourite location for fashion shoots and for celebrity photo shoots. So many of these models and stylists and photographers had asked about staying there, that, in David's own words, “In a way it was a natural extension of what I was already doing – sharing my home with strangers. So far, it’s been a great success, and I have had some fantastically lovely people staying here."

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Just one look at the wonderful mélange of colours and textiles and textures and it is easy to see why 40 Winks has been on the stylists' radar for years. There is a magical, fairytale-esque feel to the rooms. You can imagine all kinds of slightly mad adventures taking place here. 40 Winks likes to describe itself as a home away from home, but to many guests, it must seem more like an excursion into a fabulous make-believe world. David expresses his philosophy perfectly “People need to believe in magic, that there are places around the world which create a special feeling in them which they can experience for a few hours or a few days. It is something all adults need; to be refreshed and reminded of the vibrancy of life,”

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40 Winks has only 2 bedrooms...ah ha you say, NOW that explains the phenomenal waiting list, to stay here. Yes it does. Beloved by so many in the artistic and design world, there is indeed a waiting list to stay chez David.

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Says David of his home " We are happy to celebrate the fact that we are offering something different, something which isn’t necessarily going to appeal to everyone.” But if an eclectic almost shabby-chic ambience appeals, you have found your nirvana.

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Quirky decoration, masses of colour, contrasts, textures galore - all these elements come together in this micro boutique hotel (The owner's description, by the way). David is an interior designer of repute, and his design philosophy explains so much of the look and mood of 40 Winks: "My interior design work is driven by a desire to create spaces which touch people on an emotional level. I think we all need a sanctuary from the harsh realities of everyday life."

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A bathroom where opulence and the fantastic come together and the net result is straight out of, oh gosh, Arabian Nights or some other rich dramatic tale.

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40 Winks doesn't have a restaurant, but does serve a continental breakfast for its guests and what a dining room...and what a kitchen...you can absolutely imagine the amazing conversations that take place here.

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Just looking at such a sumptuous room as this, why is it no surprise to learn that 40 Winks hosts monthly Saturday afternoon salons, where people meet over a glass of champagne to talk and discuss and listen to an expert.

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40 Winks also hosts evenings with professional story tellers, and yet again, why are we not surprised? A luscious corner like this is just crying out to be the centre of a story.

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How many different adjectives can you use to describe 40 Winks? Quirky. Fun. Fantastic. Inspired. Inspirational. Seductive. Enchanting. And now just think back to your last stay in one of those top end chain hotels...could you use any one of those adjectives? Doubt it. See. You didn't miss the marble lobby or the TV one little bit, now, did you?





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