12 weeks ago David Carter opened up a double and single room in his residence, known as 40 WINKS, to the public.
To generate publicity, as well as to satisfy his own desire to ‘create magical experiences’, the internationally renowned interior designer turned boutique hotelier is hosting a series of nights including Bedtime Stories – an evening of compulsory pyjama wearing, wine and stories by the likes of Ian McEwan and Angela Carter.
From the moment the door of the Mile End town house swings open to reveal a tall, ethereal figure dressed like a gentleman’s butler, except for two ostentatious diamond cuff links, I know that I’m in for something out of the ordinary.
He directs me towards a basket full of slippers ‘it’s a no shoes house darling’ and then offers me ‘tea, coffee, water, wine or something harder’. Tempted as I am to start necking the gin, there are subtler pleasures to be had here so I opt for tea and follow David down to the kitchen.
Is it possible to have any kind of normal routine when you’ve got people staying in your house?
‘Not really but I’m not very keen on routine anyway. I love meeting new people and for the last few years I’ve been renting out the house for fashion and celebrity locations so I’m quite used to welcoming lots of new people to the house. NME were here a couple of weeks ago shooting Kasabian. To me that’s quite normal. What I’m doing now is just an extension.’
What experience do you think people would get here that they wouldn’t at a normal hotel?
‘People generally feel very inspired here. It’s sexy and seductive in a very warm, gentle way. It caresses you in a loving way and people feel creative here. I love talking to people and interacting with people who feel passionately about creative things and have tried to construct an environment where that is encouraged and supported.’
What are you trying to achieve with Bedtime Stories?
‘We’re trying to transport people back to a time before they were cynical and had mortgages and all the other problems and disappointments that we all have in life to the point where they are innocent again. We want to remind people of who they were when they had dreams and were inspired by dreams and got excited.’
So basically you like people and want to help them?
‘I do like people and I’m interested in people.’
Wow, I’m used to meeting cynics
‘I’m not interested in being cynical. I’ve been through all that and think with a few obvious exceptions, that most people are inherently good. We want to remind people that they do have choices and whatever you’re doing now, no matter how awful your life might be or how despicable you are as a person, tomorrow you don’t have to be like that. It’s often difficult to do this on one’s own, we need a bit of nurture or encouragement, so if there can be magical experiences for people then maybe that’s the catalyst for them to shift their perception just a little bit .’
Are events going to be a regular feature at 40 WINKS?
‘Yes. There is a fashion couture night on June 25 and I have a mad idea to project a puppet show onto the other side of the road where the people watching sit in evening dress with opera glasses being fed Pimms and Champagne. I could imagine the whole of Mile End Road grinding to a halt.’
Bedtime Stories takes place on Wednesday 17 June, 22 July and 29 July at:
109 Mile End Road
Tel: 020 7790 0259