UK: Private Island Interlude at Spitbank Fort Retreat

  • Spitbank Fort is a unique retreat in the waters between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

    Spitbank Fort is a unique retreat in the waters between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

  • One of the Fort’s eightbedrooms.

    One of the Fort’s eightbedrooms.

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An unlikely landmark in the middle of the Solent channel is England’s newest private-island getaway

By Sarah Thompson

Those who like their islands armor-plated will feel safe and sound on Spitbank Fort, a former Napoleonic defence post that has been refashioned in glamorous style as an exclusive-use hotel. Situated off England’s south coast near the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour, Spitbank, completed in 1878, served as a British military base for many years, hence the thick iron plates that cover its seaward side. Now, new owners Clarenco have decommissioned the military look and softened Spitbank around the edges to create a cool (albeit man-made) island hideaway that’s as peaceful as can be.

With plush accommodation for 18 of your favorite people, Spitbank is the kind of place you can take over and pretend you own for the weekend. Clarenco have done a good job of zoning the space, so island-fever doesn’t take hold. You can sip champagne in the hot tub, gather around the fire pit, or shoot some pool in the games room, your gastronomic require-ments attended to at all times by the small crew who man the decks. Reachable only by private boat, it’s also highly discreet, so there’s no chance of anyone crashing your party.

Spitbank isn’t the prettiest island in the world—no plam trees swaying in the breeze here—but the clean lines and fuss-free profilegive its concrete bulk a certain Modernist charm. And with such a unique backstory, a special occasion held here is sure to be one for the history books (44-1494/682-682;; exclusive use from US$8,700 a night).

Originally appeared in the June/July 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Fort of Call”)

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