Solent Forts: A luxury hotel experience in the middle of the sea
By CAT TOOGOOD
Finding a unique venue for a special celebration can be challenging, especially if you don’t want to travel too far. I happened to stumble across the gem that is Solent Forts when organising a recent hen weekend and lucky for me it offered everything I needed in one spectacular place!
Located just off the coast of Portsmouth, Solent Forts is a collection of award winning venues that offer a distinct travel experience like no other. Each of their three forts offer a unique experience, whether it’s the ultimate hotel stay, a luxury hen or stag party, an unusual exclusive use venue for weddings and events, or a historical tour.
The spectacular man-made forts have a long and varied history, dating back 150 years. Distinctive and unmissable due their size and shape, they were built as a line of defence against enemy attacks on the Solent and Portsmouth, and were used during both World War I and World War II.
In the last few years, 2 out of 3 of the forts have been renovated and turned in to luxury hotels with the circular floor plan of each meaning you experience stunning panoramic views across the Solent from every angle.
Spitbank Fort, the smallest of the three, is a luxury island retreat with 8 bedroom suites; ideal for couples, intimate events or corporate use, while Horse Sand Fort, the newest addition to the collection, has been left untouched to showcase the incredible history of the forts.
I had the pleasure of spending the night on No Man’s Fort, the largest island hotel venue. With 23 spacious ensuite bedroom suites, all boasting fabulous views over the water, it is the perfect place to spend a romantic night away, a memorable and unique hen or stag weekend, or a great venue to hold a unique wedding or corporate event.
There are many different overnight packages available with a variety of choices in terms of activities. We enjoyed the hen weekend package which included a welcome glass of bubbly, champagne afternoon tea and spa treatment in the afternoon, with plenty of time to enjoy the hot tubs on the roof terrace too!
We enjoyed a fabulous private dinner in the lighthouse with panoramic views and food worthy of a Michelin-starred restaurant, followed by a cocktail making class in the Cabaret bar where we even got to learn the art of champagne sabrage.
All of this was rounded off by rum and toasted marshmallows around the fire pit on the roof terrace and a night time dip in the hot tub. Luckily, the great British summer was kind to us and we were graced with glorious sunshine throughout our stay. Although the staff did suggest staying on the forts during a thunderstorm was as spectacular an experience!
Guests are able to create their own bespoke package with other activities available including a ride on the rib boat, a treasure hunt, laser tag in the basement tunnels of the fort and gin/rum/wine tasting. There are also dedicated pool and snooker rooms, as well as a poker room should your group be feeling competitive!
Solent Forts also cater for day trippers with Afternoon Tea, Sunday lunch and Romantic dinner packages available, and it is possible to book the forts for exclusive use to celebrate a special occasion or host an unforgettable wedding, party or conference. All experiences also include a tour of the fort to learn about the history of these incredible structures and return boat transfers.
Staying at No Man’s Fort was an amazing experience. There’s something magical about staying in a hotel in the middle of the sea, and it’s the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It really is one for the bucket list!
Day experiences start from £55 per person. Hen packages start from £329 per person. For bespoke overnight experiences, please contact Solent Forts. www.solentforts.com