Three historic forts built in the Solent in the 1860s are being sold by entrepreneur Mike Clare, who founded Dreams, the bed company. Mike didn’t build them, of course, but you can bet they have a good few comfy beds.
In fact they were built by Prime Minister Lord Palmerston when the country feared a French invasion. By the time they had been completed the Gallic threat had gone and they became known as Palmerston’s Follies.
Two of the forts for sale, No Man’s Fort and Spitbank Fort, have been painstakingly redeveloped into exclusive hotels. The third, Horse Sand Fort, is currently used to record the history of the follies and retains the 100 chambers and living quarters, original gun carriages and armour plated walls.
Each of the ‘Solent Forts’ has 15ft granite walls and they are testament to the skill of Victorian engineers and the ambition of the era. Large stone blocks were used as foundations, transported from the quarry by train and then by barge before being set in place by divers.
No Man’s Fort (ideal for a group of women perhaps?) has been transformed to create a 4-star island hotel, with a maximum capacity of 200. Guests can hire the entire venue exclusively for weddings, corporate events and celebrations. It has 23 en suite guest bedrooms, staff quarters, a restaurant, five themed bars, a laser battle play area and a spa. The fort has 99,000 square feet over four floors and includes a lighthouse with private dining, rooftop hot tubs, sauna, fire pit, hot pool and helipad.
Spitbank Fort is even more posh with nine luxury guest suites plus staff accommodation, events spaces including a restaurant, two bars and a ‘wine cave’.
With 33,000 square feet over three floors, it has a maximum capacity of 60 and features an open central courtyard, plus roof top terrace including sauna, fire pit and hot pool.
Mike Clare (right) acquired the properties ten years ago and spent several years redeveloping them. Now he has decided to sell the two hotels are being sold through global real estate advisor Colliers and the freehold estimate for them combined is more than £8m.
Paul Barrasford, Director in Colliers International’s Hotels Agency team, said, “In keeping with the unique nature of the forts and aside from buyers looking to continue the current use, we are expecting and would welcome interest from buyers looking to repurpose the properties to say, ultra-private residences, corporate retreats or exclusive use venues.