Is this the most unusual hotel in the UK? Visit Spitbank Fort off the coast of Portsmouth
Here at #teamcoco we strive to introduce you to the more unusual accommodation out there for the wanderers and adventurers looking for something that little bit different.
Well, we have certainly found you something different! If a historic building with a private chef and an exclusive use resort accessible only by boat sounds like your kind of holiday, then we suggest you add Spitbank Fort in the Solent to your list.
A formidable presence in the open water, arriving by boat at Spitbank Fort just 1.2 nautical miles (ten minutes) from Portsmouth Harbour, you feel like you’ve just stepped into the world of James Bond. You can travel by rib boat if the weather is nice and your party is small, or there are boats that can take larger groups or those who are not up for the high speed drama of a rib!
This is just the first of many bespoke opportunities for your Spitbank experience. This is an exclusive luxury hotel resort and every experience there is unique. Whether you’re thinking of visiting for a birthday, stag or hen do, wedding or for a work team away day, you can work with the the Solent Forts team to curate your stay to be the perfect retreat.
Upon arrival at the Fort, you will climb the stairs and walkway up to the entrance and on a clear day look out towards the Isle of Wight and back to the coastline of Portsmouth.
Your bags will be taken from the boat to your room and you can be greeted with a glass of champagne by Kyle, the extremely knowledgeable, friendly and witty manager who is on hand for a historic tour and also in possession of a perfect set of taste buds to lead cocktail masterclasses and rum tastings. He can also teach you how to open a bottle of champagne with a sabre. Enviable life skills.
You know that the Solent Fort’s company has really invested in its team and respects its clients by putting the best people on site to look after you during your stay. They are dedicated, friendly and genuinely passionate about the site’s history.
Built in the 1860s in response to the fear of invasion by Napoleon III, the Solent Forts took 15 years to complete, but by this time, the feared threat of invasion from the French had disappeared and the forts became known as Palmerston’s Follies.
Two World Wars followed, and the forts were used to defend the UK during this time but in 1956 the forts were once again left empty and unused. It wasn’t until the 1980s that they were bought and restored originally as museums, but in 2009 Spitbank Fort was was transformed into the first of the Solent Fort’s luxury hotels, opening in 2012.
Original features have been lovingly and meticulously safeguarded as part of the conservation, such as the hooks you can see in the exposed brick walls of the Victory Bar (serving Laurent-Perrier champagne) which were used to string up hammocks for the men serving at the fort.
A stark contrast to the sleeping arrangements of today. The original storage signs for ballistics and hand drawn signs for those who could not read, still adorn the corridors of the lower levels of the fort.
Having exclusive use, your own crew and chef included in the remote location this venue brings a really special intimacy. The fort has been used for work conferences with away-day team-building for staff during the day and senior leadership teams using the evening for key strategy meetings. You can even get married here.
With the Isle of Wight not far off you can expect to hear of exclusive intimate gigs following the festival to be taking place across the forts. In short, whatever event or holiday you’re looking for accommodation for, this place works.
Spitbank can play host to 18 guests staying overnight, with nine en-suite rooms. During the day you can have up to 60 guests who can be transported to and from the fort for your event, with the last boat leaving for the mainland at midnight.
The hotel’s nine rooms are huge, occupying the spaces originally used for cannons. They each boast king sized beds, cosy seating areas, walk-in rain showers and because the structure itself is round, all guests can enjoy sea views.
Exposed brick walls, nautical flourishes and historic objects, peaceful and neutral colour palettes make the space a relaxing escape. Of course, all the expected amenities are on hand from hairdryers to high-end toiletries, a kettle and drinks selection. But you also have a crew who are always happy to help, so you’ll rarely be in need for anything.
In your room there are spa robes and slippers which are just what you need when you decide to slip into your swimwear to enjoy the roof top hot pool and sauna. This is when the dramatic 360 degree sea views really come into their own.
Relax with a glass of wine in the warm water with your guests, a perfect place to catch up and talk together before drying off in the nearby sauna.
From the roof you can also climb a restored lighthouse and take in views of the South Coast and Isle of Wight or just sit back and enjoy watching the sun setting over the sea, wrapped in blankets, enjoying hot chocolate and rum and keeping warm at the fire pit and enjoying – on a clear night – the black, star-studded sky.
Food can be enjoyed in the ‘Officers’ Mess’, a characterful room perfect for enjoying an evening meal served by the Forts’ crew. The bespoke menu is provided by the fort’s Executive Chef who is a passionate, born and bred Portsmouth local.
In June 2019, for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing, there are opportunities for you to visit the forts for afternoon teas or four course meals with singers and 1940s music and a unique sight line of the Red Arrows.
These are just some of their programmed events that make the most of the fort’s history. The venue lends itself perfectly to crackling vinyl and a pin curl.
For an exclusive venue that is all yours during your stay, you might think it could risk feeling limited or potentially claustrophobic – no one wants a holiday argument! But it is actually incredibly spacious with numerous and diverse dwell spaces from the top deck to the shisha room down below. It’s also appealing for a secluded retreat without the demands of exploring a city, region or country, or even just sleeping in without feeling guilt or FOMO.
Like hiring out a house for New Year’s Eve, you can spend a guilt free few days doing absolutely nothing at all. But if you or one of your fellow guests does require a change of scenery, you can arrange for a boat to travel to another fort nearby, No Mans, which is a larger, 23 room public hotel that is three times the size of Spitbank Fort.
If you fancy the idea of a fort stay but don’t require exclusive use, this is the site where you can rent individual rooms rather than the whole fort. There is a large spa here with rooftop hot tubs so is worth the trip over during your stay at Spitbank for treatments.
Here you can play laser battles with your friends, or fish off the side of the fort and in the summer they will be programming outdoor, open-air cinema screenings and you can arrive by helicopter if you want an alternative glamorous entrance to the high speed ribs!
If you’re looking for a unique getaway, with the option of a bespoke and exclusive experience in the UK, you really can’t get much better than this. They really have thought of everything, and if you think of something they haven’t they’ll most likely get it sorted for you.