When you book a minibreak, what do you look for? A nice hotel, with plush interiors and good food, maybe by the sea? Well, what about in the sea? Like in the middle of the actual Solent, slap-bang-you-have-to-get-a-boat-there-in-the-middle-of-the-bloody-sea. Solent Forts* are a small collection of well, forts, plonked in the middle of the sea by Prime Minister Lord Henry Palmerston (probs not ‘plonked’… it’s probs really hard to build in the middle of the sea). Built initially as a means of defence, they’ve now been transformed to luxury hotels offering a uniquely unparalleled sea-life experience.
Myself and the crew of other bloggers (see what I did there) hop on the exclusive Solent Forts‘ rib, life jackets strapped firmly round our shoulders and between our legs (this is a very important and necessary safety precaution – thanks very much lovely skipper Griff). I choose the seat at the back which was stupid because having washed my hair, completed my make-up to goddess-standard, and worn a CREAM jumpsuit (why, God, why?!), I didn’t expect the rib-ride to be quite as thrilling as it was. To say that I sailed along with ‘the wind in my hair’ was an understatement. Put it this way I had crabs legit land in my lap (this might be a lie), but, I tell you what, I absolutely loved it! Have you even been on a boat if you don’t get splashed in the face? I probably should’ve expected seeing as I’d looked up where the forts were on Google Maps that morning *eye roll emoji*.
I arrived at Spitbank Fort like I’d entered a wet t-shirt competition, and I welcomed a glass of champagne from the hotel staff like I’d won the thing. I. Was. Buzzing.
Spitbank Fort is a delight. The entire interior is exposed brickwork with blankets, cushions, candles, globes and compasses adorning every surface. So much care has gone into furnishing it while taking into account it’s historical context – it feels like the French will invade at any moment (but preferably after my three-course meal and glass of Laurent Perrier thank you very much). The original hammock hooks where the soldiers would’ve slept still poke out from the walls, as do the sinks in which the officers used to wash.
The views from the roof of Spitbank Fort are spectacular and literally every room has a sea view. I just kept thinking how cool it would be to hire the whole fort for a weekend and come with a massive group of friends. But before I got too excited planning my decadent sea-party (maybe it could have a PIRATE theme?!), we were back on the rib and off to fort number two.
No Man’s Fort is much bigger and feels much more like a traditional ‘hotel’. There’s 5 different bars on the fort, various eateries, a huge lounge, a games room, a spa and 23 bedrooms, but it only takes a glance out a window to remind you that you’re staying aboard a secluded, historical structure with no neighbours to worry about – just maybe some fish.
Visiting Solent Forts is an experience. You have the rich past of the forts for those that like history, hot pools on the roof for those that want to chill, and there’s even a laser battle experience in the basement for those that like running around pretending to shoot each other. It’s the perfect location to ‘get away from it all’ and spend a couple of nights at sea, with the luxury of hopping back on a boat and travelling back to the mainland (unlike the soldiers who would’ve been posted there!). And if your bank balance isn’t keen on staying on one of the forts, why not do a day experience? You can have an afternoon tea, a Sunday lunch, or you can even pop over and get your nails done – FUN.
How good would it be going into work on a Monday morning and enduring the forever dull ‘How was your weekend?’ question: ‘yeah it was great thanks Julie hun, stayed on a fort in the middle of the sea, had a banging three-course meal, and came back on a boat with a crab in my lap’. Just saying.
You can book a stay or experience with Solent Forts by clicking here. Use my exclusive discount code EMMAJO10 for 10% off.
*This day was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.