LDN Experiences

Published on July 6th, 2016 | by Francesca Baker


Bedtime Stories @ 40 Winks Hotel, Stepney Green

An eccentric man dressed in a long black gown and hat answers the door of the unassuming 109 Mile End Road. Inside this 18th century townhouse, in a street of chicken shops and betting stores is one of London’s most boutique hotels. 40 Winks has only two rooms which are often booked out months in advance, and so every few months, its owner Mr David Carter, opens his doors and invites people into his dark and sensuous home for some stories. Bedtime Stories has been running since 2009, and is a deliciously imaginative and macabre take on the old oral tradition of telling tales.

Ushered into the hall, cooing and peering at the rich and eclectic interior of ornate curves, hanging crosses, gold taps and thick fabrics, we are taken upstairs to don our ‘dress code of elegant and glamorous jimjams and nighties’ which is to be ‘strictly enforced by our highly trained pyjama police,’ the glamourous girls who carry our bags and pour our cocktails into teacups.

Glamour and sauce is something of a theme. Mr Carter encourages outrageous flirtation and overtly sets this example, with prizes being won for the sexiest outfit and most bewitching female. It could all be a little bit creepy, but the cocktails, food, music and storytelling are all on the right side of cheeky – albeit delivered with a glint.

40 Winks Hotel

The old oral tradition of storytelling has somewhat faded out, but in these dimly lit walls glows. Tonight’s narrator is Nell Phoenix, who transports her captive listeners around the globe with her retelling of fairytales and the fallen females they speak of. Captivating, and not just due to her decadent boudoir attire, the audience sat on ostentatious cushions and lush sofas watch her lure us all in with distinct articulation, bright tones and evocative vocabulary through enchanting lands and rich stories.  She’s followed by Tom Price Stephens, a London songwriter with a maidenly infectiously warm voice, who strums his guitar and tells more anecdotes, this time set to music. It’s a charming end to a charismatic night.

Leaving the flamboyant house on this balmy June night, we’re all a little flushed, and it’s not just due to the heat. Heading out into the witching hour after an evening that’s been a little bit naughty, slightly bewildering, and utterly magical, this is bedtime for grownups.

Bedtime Story Nights take place five times a year with tickets priced £30, for more information on future events visit http://www.40winks.org/bedtime-story-nights/

40 Winks, 109 Mile End Rd, E1 4UJ

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About the Author

Francesca Baker is curious about life and enjoys writing about it. A freelance journalist, event organiser, and minor marketing whizz, she has plenty of ideas, and likes to share them. She writes about music, literature, life, travel, art, London, and other general musings, and organises events that contain at least one of the above. You can find out more at www.andsoshethinks.co.uk and follow her on https://twitter.com/andsoshethinks

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