A wonderful way to spend an afternoon and an evening

Last summer a delightful pop-up boutique hotel, Jacques Townhouse, popped up in the heart of Central London. It was created by David Carter, from the award-winning 40 Winks boutique hotel, for Jacques Cider.

Jacques partnered with songstress Sophie Ellis Bextor, to curate the ultimate girly girls experience. The townhouse, decorated and designed by Mr Carter, had been converted into the ultimate girls retreat, where the urban lass could unwind and re-establish a dialogue with her inner prettiness.

The concept was a twist on the quintessential English tea party, where girls could enjoy a glass or two of Jacques and bespoke cupcakes courtesy of Vintage Patisserie, have their fortunes told, palms read and  be glammed-over by Benefit Cosmetics. There was a dress up room where stylists would adorn guests in various vintage outfits. They could then pop next door to the studio where they were shot on a whimsical set by a professional photographer. My reason for mentioning this past event is to bring attention to Mr Carter’s ability to create a wonderful girly experience. He now brings us Coquette (for the girls) and Bedtime Story Nights (for the boys and the girls). Scroll down to read about these two wonderful events.

Bedtime Story Nights

David Carter’s Queen Anne residence and boutique hotel 40 Winks is an ode to poetry and playfulness in London’s East End. German Vogue has called 40 Winks ‘The most beautiful small hotel in the world‘ (August 2009). I recently wrote a post about the boutique hotel and a great way to experience the beautiful interior is to attend the ‘Bedtime Story Nights’ which have been running on a monthly basis at 40 Winks since June 2009. The story nights are a totally unique experience in London, bursting with genuine charm, warmth and humour. 40 Winks work with a fantastic team of professional storytellers, actors and musicians assembled by their Curator of Ever More Curious Tales, Miss Rachel Rose Reid, and the very charming Mr Carter.

If you go along to 40 Winks you are in good company as the following publications have given rave reviews: The Evening Standard, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Saturday Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Stylist, Tatler, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Time Out, Le Cool, Daily Candy and too many other publications to mention…. 40 Winks has also been included in the Sunday Times Travel Magazine hot list of the 14 most amazing things to do in the world!!

The latest programme has been fiendishly devised to have you squealing with delight for months to come.


13th and 14th April 2011: With SuperBard (George Lewkowicz) and superbardette Helen East… expect to be seduced, bewitched and bedazzled.


11th and 12th May 2011: Suzanne Andrade, founding member and director of the critically acclaimed theatre company ‘1927’ is finally back at 40 Winks after an international tour which has included sell-out shows at the Sydney Opera House and the Battersea Arts Centre. Sharing their tiniest of stages will be the phenomenally talented Sarah Bennetto.


27th May 2011: A special solo show with one of this country’s top storytellers, Peter Chand. Join him on an enchanted journey to the subcontinent for stories of conceited gods, foolish kings and some not very bright men…


15th and 16th June 2011: Two of their best loved performers, Sally Pomme Clayton and Nell Phoenix, return to 40 Winks to cast their spell and conjure up a little Midsummer madness.

A very strict dress code of pyjamas and nighties is rigorously enforced, so take something deliciously inappropriate along to wear otherwise you may be compelled by Mr Carter to stand outside in the cold. Benefit Cosmetics generously sponsor their ‘Most Glamorous Nightie Award’, and the prize is worth a staggering £300, so it is well worth making an effort to impress and seduce. They suggest bringing along a small cushion, a teddy bear and anything else that makes you feel warm and cosy. They set aside a couple of rooms for boys and girls to change in, so if you don’t fancy the idea of transporting yourselves there already dressed in your boudoir attire, they will provide a space where you can do this without making a spectacle of yourself.

TICKETS: Still a very modest £25 per head including unusually nice cocktails provided by their kind and generous benefactors, Hendrick’s Gin, and some yummy nibbles.

TIMES: Doors open at 7.00pm and the performances start at 8.15pm promptly. They aim to return guests to reality by 10.45pm.

BOOKING: Email reservations@40winks.org

WHERE: 40 Winks, 109 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ

WEBSITE: http://www.40winks.org

NEAREST TUBE: Stepney Green (a three minute stroll…)

p.s. remember the glamorous nightie!


If you enjoy dressing up then you will love this.

‘Tart at 40 Winks’ was such a huge success with guests and press alike that the dandyesque Mr Carter was finally forced to accept that his much loved abode in East London was really too small to accommodate all the lovely girls who wanted to come. More space was needed, and his epic journey began to find a suitably glamorous setting for this intoxicating celebration of naughty self indulgence, seductive style and decadent pampering. One night he stumbled through the doors of Kettner’s in Soho, and was immediately bewitched both by its elegant interiors and its delightfully louche history. From this chance encounter, ‘Coquette’ was conceived. Bigger, brighter and even better than ‘Tart’, this is going to be the best afternoon of girly fun, fashion and frivolity to be found in London, and will be the perfect pick-me-up for girls who want to put some old fashioned glamour back in to their otherwise dreary lives.


Coquette is a whole delirious afternoon dedicated to spoiling experiences…


You will be served dainty sandwiches, yummy cakes and tempting chocolates created by Head Chef Winston Matthews, and offered cocktails and champagne, both surreptitiously provided in pretty vintage tea cups.


While vintage hair experts, Lipstick and Curl, transform your tired tresses, beauty artists from cult cosmetics brand, Benefit, will be working their magic to help you discover your inner starlet, or perhaps even your inner Scarlett! Benefit’s very own beauty guru and head make up artist, Lisa Potter Dixon, will be here in person sharing her top tips with a ‘Make Up Masterclass’, aimed at helping you create that perfect look for S/S 2011. Pay attention, and you might even win the ‘Benefit Best Girl Award’ (worth£300). They are also very excited to announce the participation of top American skincare company, Murad, who will be setting up a special Coquette ‘beauty clinic’ for guests, offering a mixture of expert advice and mini treatments throughout the afternoon.


Their team of mystic megs will be rummaging through your empty teacups, and inspecting your well manicured fingers to help find answers to all your most pressing dilemmas (When will love strike? Which designer handbag should I buy this season…


Why not try on something fun and delicious in their amazing dressing up room, curated by Hazel Holtham from uber trendy vintage specialist, ‘Rag & Bow: The Roaming Vintage Store’ or allow yourself to be seduced by the work of some of London’s brightest and coolest young designers, like hot new jeweller Jeminee Solanki, and Victoria Holt from cult lingerie label, Fred and Ginger, or slip in to something gorgeous by fabulous faux vintage label Bettie Page from Stop Traffic Clothing. At April’s event, they even have milliner to the stars, Katherine Elizabeth, who creates delicious confections for people like Dita von Teese, Lily Allen and Alexa Chung. Once you are glammed up and looking your gorgeous best, pose with Mr Carter and have your picture taken by one of their photographers. There is even a fantastic prize for our most enthusiastic and flirtatious girl…


At Coquette they aim to educate as well as entertain, and at each event they will be hosting a series of self- improvement classes… not compulsory, but anyone unable to tell Mr Carter what a Victory Roll is by the end of the afternoon, will be severely punished and forced to stand in the ‘naughty corner’ for the rest of the day.

One of their most popular classes is their famous ‘Cocktail Making Masterclass’ where you will be taught how to ’uncork’ the mysteries of alcoholic alchemy by a top mixologist. Perfect for those of you who can’t tell the difference between ‘A Fallen Angel’ and ‘A Flying Dutchman’.

Their events always attract lots of fantastic guest speakers like the marvellous Liz Brewer on ‘Etiquette for Girls’, or Katie Halford (owner of cult faux vintage lingerie brand, What Katie Did) waxing lyrically on subjects such as ‘Stocking Secrets’ or ‘the Fundamentals of Undergarments’. These are often only confirmed shortly the big day, but they are pleased to announce that they have tied down ‘man guru’, author and social commentator, Zoe Strimpel for both the April and June dates. ‘Ten Ways To Make Him Fall For You’ is an essential dating clinic every girl should attend, whether she has already found love, or is still optimistically searching for it. Rather conveniently, they will also have Lana Citron exploring ‘The Art of Kissing’ at both these events too…. Very helpful if you successfully seduce the man of your dreams!


While they don’t approve of excessive exercise at Coquette, they thought it would be rather jolly to introduce one activity to help you work up an appetite for more cake. ‘Dance with a Stranger’ will be a gentle introduction to the mysteries of Swing (not swinging) with the very dapper Mr Paul Crook acting as their Director of Syncopation. Intimate one-on-one lessons will be available all afternoon on a first-come-only basis, and they will be organising a ‘Charleston Masterclass’ that everyone can enjoy too. They have the wonderfully talented Shellac Sisters spinning their 78s at the April event, and the glamorous Polka Dot Dolls doing a live set in June.


To ensure the ultimate luxury experience, only a maximum of 60 places are available at each event and they do sell out very quickly! However, if you are lucky enough to get hold of a ticket, Coquette promises to be both the perfect precursor to a girls’ night out, or simply an ideal girls’ afternoon in. Early booking is absolutely essential to avoid disappointment and tears.


Tickets: £90 per head. Includes all the fantastic treats listed above and a lovely goodie bag at the end of the afternoon!

Dates: Saturdays 9th April, 18th June, 20th August, 15th October and 3rd December 2011

Times: 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm

Dressiquette: Drop dead gorgeous, or you will be sent home alone and in disgrace

Booking: email reservations@40winks.org or phone 0207 790 0259

Where: Kettner’s, 29 Romilly Street, Soho, London W1



By the end of the afternoon, they expect you to feel, and look, like fabulous movie stars, so rather than simply pushing you out the door, they have persuaded they genial friends at Kettner’s to put together a special ‘A La Coquette Menu’, enabling you to continue the evening downstairs in style in the Brasserie (conveniently situated next to the Champagne Bar), and possibly even invite along those neglected boyfriends, husbands or lovers to admire and worship you.

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