In the mid-19th century, Britain built three forts in the Solent, the strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England. This was to protect Britain’s most important naval base against attacks from Napoleon III’s navy. Now, over 150 years later, these forts have been converted into unique British island retreats.
British Seafort Hotels
Situated in Portsmouth Harbor, the three forts are Spitbank Fort, Horse Sand Fort and No Man’s Land Fort.
Spitbank Fort is now a quirky luxury hotel with eight suites magnificently transformed from gun emplacements, and Horse Sand Fort is to be a museum. No Man’s Land is currently under development, but will become an even larger luxurious retreat than Spitbank.
The Spitbank Fort was the result of an 1859 Royal Commission and its purpose was to protect the British shores from both sea and air attacks. The fort remained an operational military island for an entire century before being withdrawn from service in the late 1900s for being obsolete. After a multi-million pound refurbishment, the fort structure is now a combination of the original architecture/engineering and modern luxuries. These include hotel rooms, restaurants, pubs, libraries, saunas, sun decks and swimming pools. Both day and overnight guests can enjoy a meal in the cozy brick interior or in the exterior with beautiful views of the surrounding sea.
Although the Spitbank Fort is not especially attractive from the outside, this rough exterior actually adds to its quirky charm. Most of the primitive infrastructure has remained in intact with the conversion to a luxurious resort. The fort features exposed brick walls, fortress windows and a few cannons to remind guests of the fort’s original purpose. Despite the appearance, the owners of the Spitbank Fort have ensured that the fort is completely safe for visitors.
While staying at the Spitbank Fort, guests can enjoy the heated rooftop pool, wine cellar and other luxurious amenities. The fort can be accessed by taking a helicopter flight to No Man’s Fort and a 10 minute boat ride to Spitbank Fort. As an alternative, visitors can take a longer boat ride from Gosport. Spitbank Fort is certainly the most unique private island in the world, and it can be booked for weddings, corporate events and exclusive use. The fort’s accommodations all come with stunning sea views, king sized beds and large televisions.
The facilities at Spitbank Fort include the Officer’s Mess, the Crow’s Nest, the Fire Pit, Recreation Rooms and the Lighthouse. The Officer’s Mess is a brilliant restaurant featuring historic brickwork ceilings and amazing views towards Portsmouth Harbour and Spinnaker Tower. The Crow’s Nest is a modern room that is perfect for relaxation and intimate events, and also offers gorgeous views of the Portsmouth Harbour. The Fire Pit provides the perfect location to view the sun recede over the Solent, and plenty of blankets and benches are available to guests.
The basement of the Spitbank Fort contains many historical rooms that have been transformed into fantastic recreation rooms with darts, billiards and even a pinball machine. Finally, the original lighthouse from the 1890′s has been completely restored to a perfect condition and extended in height with a copper roof. The lighthouse provides the perfect viewing platform with excellent sightlines of the Isle of Wight, Solent and Portsmouth Harbour.
Horse Sand Fort and No Man’s Land Fort are virtually identical, but each of these forts will serve a different purpose in modern times. Horse Sand Fort was purchased by the owners of Spitbank Fort in 2012, and the fort is to be converted into a museum. No Man’s Land Fort has been used as a luxury residence for wealthy guests due to its privacy and amenities, including an indoor swimming pool and two helipads. However, it has gone through several ownership changes in recent years and was recently purchased by the owners of Spitbank Fort for a refurbishment into another luxurious resort destination.