Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stay in a sea fort? No? Neither had I until I found this really cool old fort off of Portsmouth Harbour. Spitbank Fort has been transformed into a hotel experience for people who have enough money to spend. It’s a truly fascinating building, so here’s a little bit for you to read if you’ve got some interest in quirky locations in the UK.
The History of Spitbank Fort
This rather unsightly fort was commissioned in 1859 by the Royal Commission! It’s not the only one that’s there, there are actually four of them around in the same area of Solent (near Portsmouth). It isn’t actually the biggest of the forts either, with Horse Sand Fort and No Man’s Land Fort being significantly bigger than it. The idea behind the collection of forts was to defend the country against any ships, with the two bigger being further out in the sea than the smaller ones. Spitbank Fort was a secondary measure, just to make sure that nobody could actually get to Portsmouth and cause more damage.
The reason for the commissioning of this fort was mainly because of the wide spread fear caused by Louis Napoleon‘s conquering of France. People were worried that the proximity to France could cause problems and the coastline was very open for people to get to. At the time, the building of these forts was really expensive. Spitbank for was the cheapest to build, costing £167,300, which today would be the equivalent of £8.6m! Due to the reasoning behind the structures, they were naturally very heavily armed with guns and such.
These forts were used in the First World War as well, with guns being mounted on the roofs to prevent any light forces passing over England. Between the Wars these forts fell into serious neglect and most people forgot about their existence, that is until the fall of France became a big problem for the UK. It was then that the forts suffered a lot of damage from heavy bombardment from the German Airforce.
The forts were deactivated at the end of the war and then went on to be decommissioned in 1956, but weren’t actually sold by the Ministry of Defence until 1982. It is since then that Spitbank Forts has been privately owned. It has made numerous television appearances, from ‘Banged up with Beadie’ where Jeremy Beadie was locked in the dungeons for a while to an episode of Most Haunted. It is now owned by AmaZing Venues, who bought the fought for £1m before continuing on to spend £3m on renovating the empty shell.
Want to Stay in Spitbank Fort?
This old fort has been turned into a stunning B&B. It now boasts 50 rooms, a dance hall, restaurant and is available for private functions. It’s crazy to think that, what was once a Naval defence post is now one of the most exclusive hotels in the UK. Getting a room here is like gold dust, so finding a deal for one is even rarer.
Unsurprisingly, staying here is definitely going to cost you quite a lot of money. I’ve actually found some deals through Trivago and sometimes you might even find some special deals on Wowcher or Groupon.
It’s worth to browse these providers and some of their deals could include some rum in the departure lounge at Royal Clarence Marina, private boat transfers to the fort/B&B, a welcome glass of champagne, a light lunch, canapes served in the Crows Nest, Dinner served in the Officer’s Mess, coffee in the Crow’s Nest, Breakfast served in the Officer’s Mess and a full guided tour of the Fort (which is really interesting). At least you know you’re getting a fair bit for your money.
I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for any great Spitbank Fort deals for you and share them on my blog :)
Naval Defence Post, Sea Fort… 5-star Hotel!
My question for this article was more to see whether or not it could actually be possible for people to transform what was once a really unattractive shell of a naval base into a stunning 5* property. My verdict would, in this case, be a yes. It came as a surprise to me that this hotel really is as beautiful as it claims to be. With a level of exclusivity that is very uncommon for a hotel anywhere in the world, this really is one for the bucket list.