Artistic and eclectic 18th-century townhouse decorated with fanciful, luxurious touches
In the East End, a three-minute walk to the London Underground
Rooms with whimsical decor, some with decorative fireplaces and marble-topped sinks
Free continental breakfast in a cozy dining room
On-site bar with small batch distillery drinks
A calendar of spoken word, music, and tasting events
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Far from London's main attractions
No in-room TVs
No on-site restaurant
Artsy, macabre decor not to everyone's taste
A whimsical mashup of decor that's equal parts Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, and Frida Kahlo, 40 Winks is a tiny boutique property in rapidly gentrifying East London that's a flight of pure fancy. The three-pearl property has just two rooms, and their bath is shared. There's also no in-room TVs. But guest find much more entertainment in the elegant 18th-century interiors. The property's owner, interior designer David Carter, cheerfully acts as concierge, but alas the location is a bit of a distance to London's top attractions, a ride away on the London Underground. Another option for a bed-and-breakfast with a dose of whimsy, The California provides a more central location, but less dramatic interiors.
London lodging with a heavy dose of eclectic whimsy
Judging from its red brick facade and glossy black door, 40 Winks could be just another spiffed-up row house in London's rapidly upscale East End. But once inside, the property shakes off any prim-and-proper associations with an electric jolt from the saffron and fuchsia embroidered sedan chairs, a chandelier made from nylon bath puffs, and a droll-faced doll propped on a window seat. Its decor is equal parts Anglophilia, shabby chic, and macabre with Union Jack motifs, vintage toys, modern photography, and animal skulls. Ancillary rooms and a low-ceilinged corridor feature an assortment of objects: a dressmaker's dummy outfitted in a soldier's red coat, moody oil portraits of children, and a black-and-white photo of a topless woman in a black mask and garters. But British traditionalism remains in the cozy, shabby chic kitchen dedicated to breakfast with a table surrounded by chairs whose backs are illustrated with heraldic devices. There's an outdoor terrace with wrought-iron furniture, a bronze deer, and a moss-covered bust of Bacchus, reinforcing the eclectic decor. Billed as the first-ever "micro boutique hotel," the property draws an urbane international set, particularly those in fashion and art.
In London's growing East End, convenient to major transportation
Located in the neighborhood of Stepney Green in the city's East End, 40 Winks isn't walking distance to the city's main tourist attractions. But it's a three-minute walk to the Stepney Green stop on the London Underground and one train stop away from the Central Line and the London Overground, a suburban rail network. Several major attractions can be reached by public transportation through this stop, including Big Ben, roughly 22 minutes away, or Buckingham Palace, 35 minutes away. An array of restaurants and independent shops are also within walking distance, and the leafy Stepney Green Park is a nine-minute walk away. Stepney City Farm, an agricultural property with a farm education program, can be reached in an 11-minute walk. Dennis Seers' House, an 18th century Georgian textile and interpretive museum, is a seven-minute drive. By car, the hotel is 48 minutes from Heathrow Airport and 66 minutes from Gatwick Airport.
Cream-hued, lavishly embellished guest rooms with a shared bath
The petite 40 Winks has a mere two rooms to offer. One Single Room and one Double, sleeping one and two people, respectively. Both have decorative fireplaces, vanity tables with Venetian mirrors, and creamy white linens of hand-stitched Egyptian cotton on beds handcrafted in England by Marshall and Stewart. The Double Room has chalky walls, bleached-wood floors topped with a blue and yellow patterned area rug. Vintage suitcases are stacked against a wall, and a period armchair upholstered in pink velvet gives a pop of color. The Single Room has walls beautifully adorned with water birds and cherry blossoms. Indigo-blue carpet surrounds a single daybed with a white coverlet, a teardrop-shaped mirror, and a slipper chair, in acid-yellow silk. An assortment of design books are tucked around for reading under lamps whose shades resemble hats or cinch-waisted lingerie. Alas, the bathroom is shared, but it's no less opulent, covered in de Gournay's hand-painted "Japanese Garden" wallpaper. There's black cabinetry, gilt fixtures, a deep soaking tub sheathed in metallic silver with a lion's head water spout, and a black marble-topped sink. The window, where a delicate bird cage sits in the well, is covered with a scrim of Art Deco beads.
Continental breakfast, small bar, and a calendar of events
As a guesthouse, 40 Winks doesn't offer many extras. There's no on-site restaurant, business center, or gym. But there are plenty of public spaces full of objets, art, and conversation pieces. The property also hosts a full calendar of spoken word, music, and tasting events worth consulting when booking a room. Wi-Fi is free throughout. The breakfast room serves a continental breakfast to all guests, and there's a bar serving drinks including small batch distilleries. The owner doubles as a concierge, and guests describe him as a rich source of ideas for touring the neighborhood.