During the late 1800s, Lord Palmerston, the British Prime Minister of that time, commissioned the construction of several sea forts in the Solent to protect Portsmouth harbour from French invasion following news that Napoleon III had become Emperor of France. The attacks never materialized, yet the forts continued to be fortified with guns and kept in order for the better part of a century. After being decommissioned in the 1980s, the forts were sold off to private parties. Now, after a £3 million (US$4.85 million) makeover, one of these forts has been transformed into an exclusive luxury hotel, with two others soon to follow.
The Horse Sands Fort is now a museum, the Spitbank Fort has been transformed into a luxury hotel with eight suites, and the No Man’s Land Fort will become an even larger hotel.
The Horse Sands Fort and No Man's Land Fort were built to defend the coast of Britain against ships, and Spitbank Fort’s purpose was to offer a second line of defense against ships that made it past the two main forts. For this purpose, Spitbank Fort was fitted with nine 12.5 inch muzzle loading guns, which were later replaced in 1884 with more “modern” 12-inch breech-loading guns, remaining in service until after World War I. By this time, the role of the fort was changed to defend against light craft and the roof was fitted out with two 4.7" guns and searchlights. In the early 1900s all but three original large guns were removed. Minor upgrades to the smaller guns and searchlights continued through the years.
In 1982 the Ministry of Defense decommissioned the fort and since then the historical landmark has been in the hands of private owners. During this period, the fort was used to host various programs such as the 2009 Coalition Festival, hard dance parties, and reality shows. For a short duration, Spitbank Fort became a museum.
The current owners bought the fort in 2010 and after extensive renovations, transformed into a hotel that opened its door in the second half of 2012.
Spitbank Fort Hotel is now home to nine luxury guest rooms, three bars, three restaurants, rooftop champagne bar, wine cellar, library, rooftop hot pool, sauna and sun decks. Many of the fort’s original features have been retained, featuring exposed brick walls, fortress windows and a couple of old cannons.
No Man's Land Fort. Photo credit
Horse Sands Fort. Photo credit
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