The English city of PortsmouthÂ has been fortified since Henry VIII built Southsea Castle in 1544 to protect the entrance to theÂ harbor. The Tudor monarch was well aware that the strategic naval port onÂ theÂ south coast of Hampshire wasÂ exposed to attack from the French, a consideration that also concerned Prime Minister Palmerston a few years later in the mid-nineteenth century. Across the Channel, a newly crownedÂ Emperor Napoleon III had revenge for his uncle’s defeat at Waterloo on his mind, which caused the British Government to reassess their coastalÂ defenses. The result: a ring ofÂ detached sea forts -Â Spitbank, Horse Sand and No Man’s Land – built on the Spithead shoals in case of French invasion. The irony is that the forts never saw any action in theÂ defenseÂ of he city, landing them the nickname “Palmerston’sÂ Follies.” De-activated by the end of WW II,Â the forts have been privately owned sinceÂ 1982, goingÂ through many guises until one of them – Spitbank – finally found its true calling as a luxurious hideaway hotel.Â ArriveÂ in style from your own private yacht or let them pick you up from nearby Gosport in a water taxi. The first thing you’ll notice is how things have changed since 1867: the previous gun emplacements have been transformed into eight stunning bedroom suites with sea views. The rooftop’s been converted to highlight a hot pool, expansive sun decks, and a steam sauna – all of which look out to Portsmouth HarborÂ and the iconic glass Spinnaker Tower. Your biggest decisions are likely going to involve where to eat and what to drink, so start with some bubbly in the Victory Bar before moving on to local crab and ribeye in the historic arched, brickwork of the Officer’s Mess. How about digestifs round the fire pit, looking out over the Isle of Wight? If the breezeÂ provesÂ too strong, settle in for brandy and roulette (or poker) in the Crow’s Nest. Win or lose, there’s nothing like waking up to the sound of the waves. Take a room for a short break or – more to my liking – hire the fort out as your own private island, with your own private crew. There’ll be no need to worry about neighbors telling you to keep the noise down – until the other two forts go condo that is.