Queens Hotel General Manager will be raising funds for homeless people

In his day job, General Manager of The Queens Hotel Portsmouth, Paul Playford, can be found looking after some of the top bedrooms in the city.

On Thursday April 27th he will be swapping the comforts of a warm bed for a night sleeping under the stars at Fratton Park, but it’s all for a good cause.

He is taking part in the CEO Sleepout at Portsmouth Football Club to raise funds for local charities tackling homelessness in the city.

“This is such a great cause and when I heard about the CEO Sleepout I was really keen to get involved.

“I am hoping that businesses we work with will support what I am doing, as well as family and friends,” said Paul.

CEO Sleepout has raised £3.5 million for more than 100 charities working hard to tackle homelessness in cities across the UK.

“I would really appreciate any sponsorship that people can give me. It will certainly be an experience sleeping at the football ground in a sleeping bag.

“But I am the lucky one as it is only one night,” he added.

To support Paul, please go to his Just Giving page here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-playford


As the official hotel for Portsmouth Pride, we have thoroughly enjoyed the LGBT+ History month posts from Portsmouth Pride celebrating key figures.

Accordingly we’d like to add our own favourite queer icon, Stephen Tennant.

He was a member of the so-called ‘Bright Young Things.’ They dominated the headlines in the 1930s due to their extravagant behaviour and Stephen was a British socialite known for his eccentric lifestyle.

In the post war years, he was a regular guest at The Queens Hotel. He was well known for holding court in the lobby, cutting quite a dash with his stylish flair.

Celebrated local author

In his book Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant ,celebrated local author Professor Philip Hoare, described how Stephen was a much loved guest at the hotel.

“The hotel was Southsea’s best, with its impressive marble pillared hall, and stained-glass domed ceiling. It had, like all of Stephen’s favoured hotels, a quiet hushed air of untrumpeted luxury.

“He would take one of the first-floor rooms, with a balcony looking out over the promenade and green of Southsea, its castle and cannons and strolling sailors.

“One of the porters at the Queens, Charlie Taylor, remembered Stephen sitting in the lounge, gazing at the dome: ‘When I first saw him he was wearing a long fawn camel coat and a pixie hood!’

Dyed blond hair and pink crocodile skin shoes

Stephen quickly had the staff under his spell.

‘He used to have his hair done at the ladies’ hairdressers in town – brilliant blond – and he wore crocodile skin shoes. One day he was sitting in the hall, and called me over, and asked me to take them round to the shoe shop in Castle Road and get them dyed pink!’”


We’ve been delighted to work with talented student architect Ben Cooper and wanted to share his story with you.

Ben is currently studying architecture at the University of Portsmouth and is a major fan of our beautiful building.

Iconic building

Accordingly he contacted us offering to interpret the hotel in a series of digital illustrations. We were delighted with the finished designs and colourful interpretation.

“The Queens Hotel is such an iconic building and one that everyone instantly recognises when they think of Southsea.

“Being able to interpret the Queens through this series of images, has been a reward in itself. I really like the way the building has changed over the years and the recent renovation work has revealed such gems as the marble floor in the lobby,” he said.

The Queens Hotel was top of the list

Ben, 21, from Bishops Waltham, has just completed his second year of study. He set-up his illustration side hustle last Summer.

Markedly he has been targeting independent businesses with interesting premises and The Queens Hotel was top of his list.

“Digital illustration offers you the best of both worlds. Its hyper-real effect sits between a photograph and an art piece.

“Colours can be changed in an instant and additions made with the least amount of effort.

“Having an architect’s eye, I can talk to people about their buildings and share their passion,” he said.

A creative way to earn a living

Since the age of 12 Ben has wanted to be an architect and says the subtle artform appealed to him because it is a creative way to earn a living.

Ben is already earning an international reputation with commissions coming in from across the globe.

Recent projects have included working on illustrations for the Coal Creek Miners Museum in Tennessee and golf-themed digital shop in New Zealand.

Looking to the future

Looking to the future, while there are options to specialise in architectural graphic design, he’s keen to work as an architect and keep his architectural illustration site active.

We love Ben’s work and we hope you do too …


Top chefs from across the Central South region took part in a panel discussion at the Business South Local Produce Trade Show – and our Executive Chef, Simon Hartnett was among the culinary stars sharing their views.

Top chefs from Hampshire

Simon was on the stage rubbing shoulders with the likes of Luke Holder, Executive Head Chef at Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest and Luke Matthews, Executive Head Chef at the Chewton Glen Hotel in New Milton.

And while Simon prefers being in the thick of it in the kitchen to taking the spotlight on stage, he had the perfect opportunity to champion buying from local producers.

Promoting local producers

Speaking afterwards, he said: “It was a great opportunity to share our views and promote working with local producers.

“I particularly like using Isle of Wight tomatoes and include them as much as I can throughout the summer months. We buy local fish, cheese, gin and beer to name just a few products we use at the Queens.

“It makes a real difference when you can build a relationship with suppliers who are local to you. You can get to understand how they operate and how you can work together. We get our sourdough bread from a wonderful bakery called Bread Addiction – they really care about the quality of their product and understand the needs of the hotel.

“I have a great relationship with the team at Mooka, who make ice cream and are based at Petersfield. I’ve been working with them in previous roles since 2012 and really enjoy coming up with ideas for flavour combinations that will enhance the desserts we offer. We had great fun creating the Guinness ice cream that accompanies the Jamaican Ginger Treacle Tart currently on our menu.

 Local Produce Trade Show

The very best of local food and drink was promoted at the Local Produce Trade Show, which is now in its 15th year.

 Burnt Chef

Buyers including representatives from cruise lines, hotels, restaurants and bars attended the show and there was also a session from the Burnt Chef, Kris Hall. He highlighted the importance of being aware of mental health issues in the kitchen and led a workshop for industry leaders to attend.


News that Portsmouth has been declared the second coolest place in the UK outside of London, comes as no surprise to the team here …

We might be biased of course but we think our island city is just the BEST…

And we wanted to share our reasons why you should explore the city during your stay.

Our independent spirit 

We’ve got so many great independent businesses on our doorstep. And here are just a few of our favourite independent businesses in Southsea:

Strong Island Clothing Co. – Think super-cool seaside style. From their Marmion Road shop, you can buy everything from T shorts, bobble hats, sunglasses and a whole lot more.

Bored of Southsea in Albert Road – a skate shop with fine pedigree, they stock limited edition sneakers, boards and other skating paraphernalia.

Rose Clover on Elm Grove – House plants are the coolest household accessory and you are bound to find the perfect greenery for your home here.

Love Southsea – The brainchild of influencer Louise Whitmore, she has her own clothing label and additionally her markets allows local traders and artists to showcase their wares.

I like a nice cup of coffee …

We have some wonderful cafes springing up all over the city. Here’s our pick of the best places for coffee in Portsmouth:

Southsea Coffee Co – Just down the road from us in Osborne Road, you will find this wonderful coffee house. They serve delicious coffee and a yummy menu.

The Southsea Deli – Great coffee, fab food, and lovely items to buy in the shop. Futhermore, you can often watch a cookery class going on at the same time. Don’t forget they have a cool deli truck at Eastney Beach too.

Baffled Deli in the heart of Old Portsmouth – the third outpost for this stylish business and well worth a visit.

Hunter Gatherer in Albert Road is passionate about coffee and their plant-based menu is truly delicious.

Hideout Coffee Company has a great vibe going on and the doughnuts are totally scrummy.

If you fancy something a bit stronger

There’s a great craft beer and distillery scene in Portsmouth. Here are our recommendations for the best beer, gin and rum producers in Portsmouth.

Southsea Brewing Co – Based in Southsea Castle, a 16th Century fortification, creates small batch beers and sells them from their own pub, The Brewers Tap.

Staggeringly Good has built a fine reputation for creating great beer. Furthermore it has become known as one of the UK’s leading breweries ranking consistently in the Top 20 in the country on Untappd.

Urban Island was founded in 2014 and was voted brewery of the year by Portsmouth & South East Hants CAMRA.

Portsmouth Distillery Cois also based in a fabulous setting, the pentagonal Fort Cumberland. It is certainly worth visiting as part of a distillery tour to see where they make their wonderful gin and rum.

Art is the answer

It’s not surprising that a wealth of artists and makers have made their home in the UK’s 2nd coolest city.

Here are just a few that we particularly admire – the best artists in Portsmouth.

Pete Codling is artist in residence at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and a past winner of the London Biennale. You can read more about Crowd 2021-23 Pete’s current project in an earlier Journal post – a set of enormous drawings that will be a portrait of the city.

Colin Merrin is based at Art Space in Southsea and regularly exhibits in London. Essentially an oil painter, he is also an established watercolourist, he was elected to the Royal Watercolourist Society in 2009.

Kevin Dean  has illustrated numerous books, designed textiles, ceramics and public art. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he can often be spotted around Southsea sketching and his images adorn our room keys.

Jacqui Mair has added plenty of colour to the local art scene with her delightful floral collages. Her sketchbooks are so inspirational.

Roo Abrook produces contemporary mixed media collage using her own original drawings depicting mainly portraits of women and children.

My Dog Sighs after 10 years of giving his art away for free as part of the global phenomenon Free Art Friday project, My Dog Sighs has an incredible international following. With five sold out shows under his belt, he has become an important figure on the contemporary art scene. Some of his work can be seen from our garden.

Ask our reception team

Additionally Portsmouth is really well known for its heritage and a visit to the Historic Dockyard is a must (please ask at reception for details of discounts for our guests).

We are also a city of literature – the Portsmouth Literary Map illustrates where some of the greatest names lived and worked. Dickens fans can visit the museum that bears his name and follow the Dickens Trail

And Sherlock Holmes fans can find out more about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s connections with Portsmouth.

Photo credit: South Parade Pier by Kevin Dean.

Positive reviews from our satisfied diners have helped us to secure a major accolade from Tripadvisor for our Restaurant 1865.

Every year Tripadvisor celebrates restaurants that consistently deliver amazing experiences with a Travellers’ Choice Award – and this year, we’ve made the list.

We really value feedback from our customers – and of course, glowing reviews always make us happy.

Executive Chef Simon Hartnett, said: “It’s always great to receive recognition for what you do and we always take note of the reviews that our customers take the time to leave.

“Our latest seasonal menu is proving really popular – and as you can see from the reviews, Sunday lunch gains plenty of plaudits.”

Here are just a few of the recent reviews:

Dinner at Restaurant 1865 in the Queens Hotel

My sister and I had cocktails and dinner at the Queens Hotel on Saturday evening.

The atmosphere was lovely and there was a good vibe in the bar earlier on. The cocktails were excellent and great before dinner. The food was excellent, simply wonderful and we felt we were somewhere very special.

After our meal we had a nightcap in the bar. Honestly, the staff could not have been any more professional or friendly with superb food and a magnificent setting.

Booking again for next month. Dinner at Restaurant 1865 in The Queen’s Hotel Ports

First class food and service

Good range of dishes offering choices to suit all palates. The food was first class and the service matched. The staff were all attentive and friendly. I would highly recommend First Class food and service


I had friends visit for the weekend and we were looking for somewhere that served roast dinner.
We’d gone to multiple restaurants, which had all stopped serving, though it was only 7pm(ish)

I remembered the Queens hotel had restaurant 1865, so we popped in, and thankfully they were still serving.

They say things happen for a reason, it was quite possibly the best roast dinner.

I had pork, which was perfect, and my friends had the beef, which they said was delicious. Deserts were delicious too

We all loved it so much we went back the next night. We all ordered the rib-eye, possibly the best steak we’d had, the knife went through like melted butter it was that tender.

Everything about restaurant 1865 and it’s surroundings was 10/10 in every way. The staff are friendly, surroundings amazing, food exquisite, and prices really reasonable, in fact unbelievably reasonable.

I couldn’t recommend this place enough, truly well worth visiting Amazing

Superb Restaurant

We had Sunday lunch and it was excellent, a nice choice of dishes, I had the pork and my Wife had Chicken, both were excellent and superbly cooked. The waitresses were fantastic, so friendly and helpful, we felt we had known them for years. Service was very prompt, but not to the point of feeling rushed. An added bonus was the excellent saxophone player, very pleasant music and not too loud.
As we were staying at the Hotel, we also had the pleasure of one of the best breakfasts I have had at any Hotel, it is worth visiting the Restaurant just to have their breakfast.
We will definitely be back we are already booked into the Hotel in September, so the restaurant is a must. Superb Restaurant

Thank you to everyone who takes the time to leave a review – we really appreciate it … 

In the wake of Restart a Heart Day, the Queens Hotel in Southsea now has a defibrillator on site.

Kind-hearted Lara Hardwick was inspired to raise funds for a defibrillator after her Dad, Alan, a fit and healthy 67-year-old, had a cardiac arrest back in April, when he was jogging in Southsea.

Here’s what happened

Significantly an incredible set of events ensured Alan survived the medical emergency. Now Lara and her family hope the defibrillator will help to raise the chance of survival for others.

“A friend happened to pass my Dad a few seconds before the incident and they called the ambulance. Then an off-duty nurse who happened to be driving by, parked up and started good, strong CPR.

“We’ve never found out who this nurse was. We’d love to find her and we’d dearly like to thank her in person! If anyone knows who this was, we’d love to hear from you.

“The builders from the site opposite also performed CPR. Our hero Josh, trained from his time in the army. Paramedics arrived and put Dad into an induced coma to protect his brain. They took him straight into resus and then onto intensive care. He was in hospital for 3 weeks in which time he slowly but defiantly came back to us.

“Undeniably we count our lucky stars every day to still have him with us,” said Lara.

Fundraising efforts

After taking a while to get her trainers back on, Lara and her partner Tom ran the Hackney Half Marathon in May. With close friends and family they decided to raise money for a defibrillator. This will hopefully go on to give another person the best
chance possible.

CPR saves lives

Lara added: “Just 10.8% of people who experience a cardiac arrest outside of hospital survive. Taking 5 minutes out of your day to learn CPR from this easy link could help increase that number.

“Figures published by London Ambulance  Service also show that when a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) was used by a bystander and at least one shock was delivered to patients, the survival rate was more than five times higher (57%).

Founder of SADS UK

Anne Jolly MBE, Founder of SADS UK, the charity who arranged for the defibrillator to be sited at the hotel, said: “We are pleased that thanks to Lara, her family and supporters, the Queens Hotel will now have a defibrillator on site.

“SADS UK is passionate about saving lives and promotes the importance of individuals learning CPR and how to use a defibrillator to help save lives. Since 1998 SADS UK has assisted thousands of schools and many communities to put defibrillators on their premises and delivered training on CPR and how to use a defibrillator.”

The Queens Hotel comment

General Manager at The Queens Hotel, Portsmouth, Paul Playford, said: “We are really pleased to be able to accommodate the defibrillator at The Queens Hotel. We are known as the hotel at the heart of Southsea and we take our commitment to our local community very seriously.

“Obviously having the defibrillator based at the hotel means we can play an important role in the health and safety of our community.”

Aina Sutka and Laura Collins both work in the marketing team at The Queens Hotel, Portsmouth and they will be taking part in the Great South Run on Sunday Oct 16.

As well as taking on a personal challenge to complete the 10-mile course in a creditable time, the pair wanted to raise funds for a local cause that already has links with the hotel.

We have been bowled over by the abundant energy and enthusiasm founder Becki Simmonds brings to her charity SPARK Community Space and we wanted to support the important work the charity does in the community.

SPARK Community Space aims to help people who don’t feel like they fit in, to access the support and services they need, so they can ‘Spark’ back into life.

They welcome anyone who feels pushed aside or overlooked by society, whether that’s because of illness, disability, redundancy, lack of qualifications or any other reason.

Learning that Aina and Laura will be running for her charity, Becki, said: “We are so pleased and grateful that Aina and Laura from the amazing Queens hotel have chosen Spark Community Space as their chosen charity to run the Great South Run – you guys are superb and our heroes.”

SPARK Community Space is just about to move into a new permanent home at the Pompey Centre in Fratton Way and funds that Aina and Laura raise will be used to make the empty space feel more welcoming.


Our popular Winter Lodge makes a welcome return from Saturday November 26th with an enchanting festive feel that’s sure to leave you longing for a winter warmer.

Constructed in the hotel’s garden, the Winter Lodge will be the perfect place to meet up with friends and family for a cosy get together

It will be open Friday 17.00-23.00; Saturday 12.00-23.00 and Sunday 12.00-21.00

Open to the public, areas can be reserved via the events team. £10pp deposit.

Popular Sunday Sessions, with chilled live music from 1pm to 5pm, go under canvas for the winter and will run on the following dates:

Seasonal songs at The Queens Hotel is a tradition loved by many and it will be taking place in the Winter Lodge on Wednesday 21st December.

General Manager Paul Playford, explained: “Our Winter Lodge proved really popular last year and we are returning with even better plans for this year.

“There will be contemporary Christmas styling that’s bound to put you in the mood for the festive season.”

The Winter Lodge is also available for exclusive corporate hire on weekday evenings 17.00-23.00.

And if you are looking for the perfect spot to bid farewell to 2022, look no further than the Winter Lodge on New Year’s Eve – £10 per person includes drink token (house wine, beer, single spirit and mixer). A donation will be made to our three supported charities from the cover price.

Photo credit: Habibur Rahman of the Portsmouth News 


Legendary drummer Slim Jim Phantom and his wife Jennie Vee brought a cool rock n roll vibe to the Queens, when they stayed with us last night.

In town for a concert at the Moonshine Club as part of his UK tour, Jim and Jennie were happy to chat about their associations with Southsea.

While Jim has fond memories of gigs at the Wedgewood Rooms, Jennie, who has played with Courtney Love and Echo and the Bunnymen and is a touring member of the Eagles of Death Metal, used to live in Southsea and was a regular visitor to the bar at the Queens Hotel.

As musicians who spend a great deal of time on the road, we asked Slim and Jennie what they look for in a hotel.

Quick as a flash Jennie said: “It’s great to have a room with a bathtub so you can have a long soak after the gig.”

And Jim added: “Nice towels and a comfy mattress are important to me.”