Even as we walked up to the little building with the words ‘Solent Forts’ written on the front, I still had no idea where Scott was taking me for a surprise night away; I’d genuinely never heard of The Solent and had forgotten what a fort was! ‘No Man’s fort’ was a complete mystery to me.
We’d arrived in Portsmouth the day before and spent the night in a cheap Ibis hotel right near to Fratton Park stadium so that we could spend the evening here and not have to worry about leaving early to drive down on the Monday morning. We caught the train into Portsmouth harbour, and took a stroll around to a pub called The Bridge Tavern which was right on the waterfront, where we had some delicious fish and chips!
The next morning, I followed Scott aimlessly as he refused to give away any clues to our exciting night away; although I had guessed a boat so you can imagine the smugness on my face when we were walked down the jetty towards them all. We got onto a little ferry boat with a load of other people and our bags, and set out into the Solent.
There are two forts that you can visit – Spitbank Fort and No Man’s Fort (where we stayed), and the third is apparently in the process of being converted into a museum.
When we arrived at No Man’s fort, we got off the boat and stepped onto the external steps which took you up and into the large round building in the middle of the sea. The rooms were all around the edges in a sort of mezzanine floor, which were large, beautifully decorated and had the most stunning sea views! There was a restaurant, a bar and a half-lighthouse – but the main attraction was the rooftop terrace! The very top of the fort was completely covered in artificial grass, and had a selection of seating areas as well as a fire pit (ready for roasting marshmallows), a little sauna hut, a bar and 2 hot tubs which look out over the Solent!
When we got there, they took our bags to our room whilst we went on a tour of the entire fort (with welcome drinks, of course). The tour took us from the rooftop, all the way around the outside of the fort, to the top of the two-floored lighthouse and also to the old ‘basement’.
The fort still had a lot of the original elements from back when they were used as defence and so it’s really interesting to see for yourself!
When we were settled in, we went to get some lunch – a sharing cheese and meat board – to tide us over until our included three course set meal that evening. We spent the afternoon taking in the views from the roof and soaking up the sun (we went in July 2018 when Britain had its heatwave, so we were blessed with some beautiful hot weather). For the evening meal, we got dressed up for a ‘fine dining’ style meal with everyone sat in one large part of the fort, where Scott was able to tick off another thing from his bucket list – buy a very expensive bottle of wine… there were no complaints from me!
One thing to bear in mind is that, me being 20 and Scott being 26, meant that we were easily the youngest couple on No Man’s Fort by far. We preferred it that way however, as we were going for a more sophisticated and calm night away, as opposed to some kind of party island!
After dinner, we got into our swimming costumes and headed up onto the roof to get into the hot tub and spend the majority of our night there. We began chatting to the one other couple that was up there, who lived on the Isle of White, who were telling us some really interesting stories about their life so far. Once they went to bed, we stayed in there watching the stars and listening to the sea until the very early hours of the morning. As far as romance goes, it was probably up there!
If you’re into unusual stays, I’d definitely recommend staying a night here to experience it all, however it’s not cheap! We managed to take a couple of days off work so that we could go on a Monday, so it did reduce the price to around £400 for the night, but if you’re looking to stay there on a weekend – start saving!! We found it on Secret Escapes but it’s worth having a look around to find the best deal – you can even hire the fort out for events as well as business meetings.
Scott took me away for this surprise night on No Man’s Fort in July 2018, where we said we’d do this regularly, taking it in turns to surprise the other with a really cool UK stay. I’m writing this in January 2020 and I’m yet to return the favour, so maybe I should start looking soon. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!!!