Iconic Socialite Stephen Tennant at the Queens

Stephen Tennant stayed at The Queens Hotel!

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.

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

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. He asked me to take them round to the shoe shop in Castle Road and get them dyed pink!’”

Related articles: Portsmouth Pride photographs, Amazing day at Portsmouth Pride event


Slim Jim Phantom and Jennie Vee stayed with us last night, bringing a cool rock ‘n’ roll vibe with them.

The legendary drummer and his wife were in town for a concert at the Moonshine Club as part of Jim’s UK tour. They were both happy to chat to us about their associations with Southsea.

Slim Jim Phantom and Jennie Vee’s memories of Southsea

Jim has fond memories of gigs at the Wedgewood Rooms, while Jennie used to live in Southsea. She was actually a regular 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.”

Slim Jim Phantom and Jennie Vee are both musicians. Slim Jim is the drummer for Stray Cats. Jennie has played with Courtney Love and Echo and the Bunnymen. She is also a touring member of the Eagles of Death Metal. 

To read more about Slim Jim Phantom, click here.

To read more about Jennie Vee, click here.