The Solent Forts are a group of four decommissioned forts with two converted as luxury hotels and one as a living museum. Spitbank Fort and No Man's Land Fort are without a shadow of a doubt two of the strangest hotels in the world - with some of the strangest stories.

Spitbank Fort and No Man's Land Fort are luxury island retreats in what were once British forts protecting Portsmouth. They are on private artificial islands and are ideal for couples, corporate use, or groups of friends looking for some unorthodox luxury. Not quite the same luxury, but you can camp on the historic Dry Tortugas National Park fort off the coast of Florida.


Background Of The Solent Forts

  • Spitbank Fort: Museum 1982-2009, Luxury Hotel 2012 to Present
  • No Man's Land Fort: Grand Luxury Hotel
  • Horse Sand Fort: Living Museum
  • St. Helens Fort: Also Owned by The Hotel - Does Not Seem To Be in Use Yet

Because of the French... During the Napoleonic Wars Britain was in a protracted struggle with the French and Emperor Napolean at one time there was a risk of a French invasion of England. But that threat was dispatched to the bottom of the sea with the crushing defeat at Trafalgar by Admiral Nelson. The British would go on to win that conflict and have not fought a proper war with the French ever since. But that doesn't mean there haven't been tensions between the age-old rivals.

The story of the fort goes back over 150 years when the British once again feared a French invasion - this time by Napolean III (about 40 years after the famous Napolean). In response, the British built up a number of sea-based defenses.

  • Built: Because of Napolean III

Fearing that the naval fleet and Portsmouth dockyard would be a target of any French aggression, work began on five commissioned forts in the 1860s. These were built with 15-foot granite walls and armor plates. Work took 15 years to complete and by the time they were finished and ready for defensive use, the fear of French invasion had passed (they had been crushed by the Germans).

  • Dubbed: "Palmerston's Follies"

The forts then became known as "Palmerston's follies" after Prime Minister Palmerston who was responsible for commissioning them. A number of forts were built, but of special concern here are  No Man's Land Fort, Spitbank Fort, St. Helen's Fort, and Horse Sand Fort.

Related: Warwick Castle: What To Expect From The Living Castle Built By William The Conqueror

Use In WW1 and WW2

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Then came the First World War. By this time heavy guns on the neighboring Isle of Wight were better positioned to deal with any enemy ships venturing into British shores. But the forts found a new role as they formed their own line of defense and were equipped with 4.7 and 6-inch guns. No Man's Land Fort and Horse Sand Fort became signaling stations, but they saw little action and were abandoned soon after.

World War Two was a dark time for the United Kingdom who once again feared invasion. Like the forts were grim during this time and soldiers on the islands were deliberately chosen for their inability to swim avoid anyone trying to escape their unenviable posts.

  • Manned: By Men Who Could Not Swim

Life here was hard, it was dark, damp, and facilities were basic. The main threat was submarines. During the war they were attacked by aircraft - that was a line of attack for which they had not been prepared.

Related: 20 Photos of Dubai’s Most Expensive Hotel Suite That Make Us All A Little Jealous

Post Military Use And Conversion To Luxury Hotels

Following the War, they were completely decommissioned and put up for sale. In 1956 the coastal artillery was abolished and the forts were empty and unused. In 1963 they were put up for sale. They were bought and two have been transformed into luxury hotels.

The Spitbank retreat has nine-bedroom suites and has all the amenities expected from a luxury stay. Overnight stay packages include champagne receptions, a four-course dinner, a luxury buffet lunch, and a full English breakfast - no need to go hungry here!

  • Spitbank: 9-Bedroom Suites
  • Up For Sale: At The Time of Writing The Forts Are Up For Sale - Go and Buy Them!

While here one can enjoy a number of relaxing attractions stalled on the island - including the Victory bar, a hot pool, a sauna, sunbathing on the roof of the deck, and then there's enjoy a guided tour of the fort itself.

As of the time of writing the hotels are closed due to the pandemic and they are not taking any bookings. The prices have also been removed from their website. According to Visit Portsmouth the normal prices for Spitland


  • Deluxe Double: £700.00 ($965) Per Room Per Night (Room Only)
  • Premier Room: £750.00  ($1,030) Per Room Per Night (Room Only)

For those who would rather be beneath the waves, consider staying at these underwater hotels.

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