Welcome to the wildcard: With none of the conventions of a conventional hotel (no spa, no room service, no reception desk even), and with just two bedrooms sharing one (stunning) bathroom, 40 Winks, located in the pound-shop environs of Stepney, is a world away from Hiltonified homogeneity and one of few affordable places to stay in London. The personal home (and showcase) of your host and interior designer David Carter, this impeccable Queen Anne townhouse built in 1717 is enchantingly decorated with whimsy and history (antique toy dogs, mannequins’ arms, a Beatles drum). In fact, so desirable is it that its very existence as a hotel (since spring 2009) was prompted by photographic crews repeatedly asking if they could stay the night (yes, as a shoot location, it’s appeared in countless magazines). The real luxury here is the emotional engagement, that antidote to robotic customer care. The experience is more like a sleepover with your long-lost eccentric uncle; Carter even admits to being embarrassed about charging guests. So it’s shoes off and slippers on, DIY tea and coffee plus kitchen access, reading in the garden, and nightcaps in the drawing room. Your stay may even coincide with his pyjama parties with bedtime stories and gin in teacups. It’s a tiny revolution.