Through The Looking Glass, Hotel 40 winks London
Entering 40 winks, is like stepping through the looking glass backwards, encountering something or someone like the brainchild of J.K.Huysmans and Charles Dodgson; or if you prefer, the lovechild of Björk and Matthew Barney.
However, perhaps child is not quite the designation I'm after. As my exhausted feet are embraced by the lush carpeting, and my eyes slowly adjust to the dimness and the expanse of rooms upon rooms with exquisite tableauxs.., it occurs to me that this house is more like a compassionate, quirky and secretly controlling mother (when she's not playful), -than a child in need of protection and nurture. Like Björk's once so pillowy voice beckoning me to come to her bosom, the house seems to whisper: i'll take care of you. protect you. come, calm down. you're exhausted. come back down, you don't have to explain, I understand.
As an establishment, 40 winks may be closer to an art-installation than a hotel. The owner, Mr. David Carter, more of a performance artist than your run of the mill hotelier. The concept most definitely relational; that branch of the art-world concerned with relations between people rather than the fetishistic acquisition of material objects, or?
When entering the peculiar domestic universe, which is Mr. Carter's stage set, be prepared to be confronted with your own reflection, or lack thereof. You fit in, or you don't. Either / Or. In this doll's house, it's not necessarily about how you look, but about whether or not you have that particular innate ability of keeping cool in the candy store. If you're one of those who sits in a theater hoping that the performance for heaven's sake does not involve any audience participation, this might not be the place for you. If however, you recognize that a work of art (read: the whole experience of being at 40 winks) needs the participation from the audience in order to be complete, then you just might have found your home away from home.
As Susan Ward Davies described it for elle.com:
”Quirky, cool and the perfect antidote to identikit chain hotels, its like stepping onto a wonderfully whimsical, eclectic film set”
40 winks has been a fashion shoot favourite since it opened. It is owned by and was decorated by interior designer David Carter in a threehundred year old Queen Ann House on Mile End Road. Lovingly restored and transformed into a magical and slightly eccentric world of its own.
40 Winks is not a conventional hotel. With only 2 bedrooms, there are no tv's in the bedrooms, no room service and no staff. Oh and you have to share it with the owner, if you dare.. or if he allows you to that is…
PS. As Mr Carter may be relocating to Bath in the near future, book your stay soon, or buy the hotel as a whole, as it is just up for sale!
WORDS : The Chromarty
PHOTOS: 40 Winks