The Craziest B&B in London Part four of A gay life in the first year of It’s a Sin

Robin Rowland
8 min readMay 14, 2021
Houses in a garden square in Earl’s Court. (Photo illustration based on Google Street View)

(Contains spoilers and may trigger some AIDS survivor readers. Names in quotation marks are pseudonyms. Many of the names from the 80s aren’t mentioned because I don’t remember. Other names are real, taken from my occasional diary or letters I wrote)

When “Darren” and I arrived in London, we knew where we wanted to stay. Earl’s Court, then one of the centres of gay life in London. We had Let’s Go, the Harvard student guide to the UK.

The first place we called had vacancies, so off we went on the long tube journey from Heathrow to Earl’s Court and found our way into one of the elegant garden squares and to a columned mid-Victorian building, a bed and breakfast I will call the “King Richard’s Court Hotel.”

In The Guardian, Russell Davies described the Pink Palace, home to the characters of It’s A Sin, the scene of much of the drama, this way through his eyes and that of his alter ego Ritchie.

Jill … moved into a flat which she called the Pink Palace, and it felt like an endless party, the rooms filled with gay men and drag queens and show tunes.

“King Richard’s Court Hotel” was my Pink Palace. It wasn’t all that gay, certainly no drag queens (at least in costume) and parties were not allowed. Through the months we lived at “King Richard’s Court,” I met the greatest assortment of crazy characters collected in one place that I have come across before or since.

There is a long history of British “B&B” theatre and movies, comedy, mystery (usually murder mystery) and “kitchen sink drama.” In my admittedly biased memory if the King Richard’s Court wasn’t the craziest bed and breakfast in London in 1981, it was certainly in the top ten. I have always wanted to write a play or novel or something about that bed and breakfast but so far haven’t been able to find the write angle that would make it work.

To mention just a few of the people I met there:

The landlady was a tall, somewhat domineering woman with long blond hair, who we were told, had in her younger days, been an Olympic athlete who had defected to Britain from an eastern European Iron Curtain country. She ran a tight ship, along with her beefy British husband…

Robin Rowland

Independent visual journalist in Kitimat, BC, Canada. Author of five books, more at