Portsmouth Harbour, Hampshire, UK
Developer and Operator
Spitbank Fort is a 134-year-old fortress, which has been renovated into a five-star hotel. Located one mile off Portsmouth Harbour in Hampshire, UK, the hotel offers an exclusive island retreat for guests.
Clarenco Group, which holds an unusual collection of retreats, renovated the fort with an investment of £3m ($4.85m). The renovated hotel was opened in April 2012.
History of the 134-year old British fort
Spitbank Fort was built in 1878 to protect Britain from the French invasion. It included huge cannons to defend Britain’s coast from the French Navy. Spitbank Fort is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Apart from the Spitbank Fort, two other forts, Horse Sand and No Man’s Land, were also commissioned during the same period. The forts were, however, never used during the French revolution. They were decommissioned in 1982 and sold to private owners before being purchased by Clarenco Group in 2009.
The Clarenco Group also plans to renovate the No Man’s Land fort into a hotel. The hotel will include 27 spacious bedrooms capable of accommodating 54 guests, spa facilities, a 200 guest capacity event space and a swimming pool. The Horse Sand fort will be converted into a museum.
Design and renovation of Spitbank Fort Hotel
The Spitbank Fort is 162ft in diameter and was originally built with a basement level, a gun level and a roof level. The fort features 48ft thick walls at the basement level, made of 8t precast concrete blocks. The walls protect the fort even from the roughest weather conditions.
On 9 April 2010, international leisure company Arkin Group Developments submitted an application to the UK’s Elmbridge Borough Council to build the world’s first underground five-star boutique hotel and spa beneath Hersham Golf Course in Surrey, UK.
Renovation of the fort has retained many of the original elements, such as exposed brick walls, fortress windows and a few old cannons. The fort’s gun ports have been converted into bedroom windows, which provide scenic ocean views. The gunpowder rooms have been transformed into lounge areas.
The fort previously contained a room capable of accommodating 150 soldiers. This space has now been converted into nine five-star luxury bedrooms with the capacity to accommodate 18 guests.
The rooms in the basement level of the fort feature artefacts from the Victorian era, including giant bellows and a large muzzle cleaner.
Facilities offered at the five-star luxury hotel
Guests arrive at the departure lounge in Royal Clarence Marina in Gosport, from where they are taken to the hotel by a boat or helicopter. The lounge features comfortable seating, a rum tasting bar, wi-fi connection and free parking.
The hotel’s nine bedrooms are divided into Admiral Suites and Commodore Rooms, named after naval officers. The Admiral Suites feature super-king size beds, large TVs, seating areas, walk-in showers and deep baths. The Commodore Rooms include super-king-size beds, TVs, slate bathrooms, and tea and coffee making facilities.
The Crow’s Nest is a function space that can be converted into an additional bedroom upon request. It features an en-suite bathroom, TV, and a balcony providing stunning sea views.
The hotel also features three bars, three restaurants, the Victory Bar located on the rooftop, a wine cellar, a library, a 16-person rooftop hot pool, a sauna, and two large sun decks.
One of the restaurants, the Officer’s Mess, features arched brickwork ceilings contrasting with modern dining facilities. It provides guests with panoramic views of the Portsmouth Harbour and Spinnaker Tower.
A function space capable of accommodating 60 guests for events such as weddings and birthday parties is also part of the hotel. The hotel can be hired for exclusive use by groups.
The Fire Pit is another place for relaxation, which provides views of the Isle of Wight. The hotel also includes recreation rooms where guests can relax and play games such as darts, billiards, pinball and poker.
Guests can also opt for various activities such as fishing, wine tasting, cocktail making and canape making.