Lifestyle & Parenting

Haunted Holiday

October 12, 2018

Located a mile off the Southeast coast of England, Spitbank Fort was once a strategic military fortification and today offers serious luxury—a truly gastronomic and historical hotel boasting the best of British, hauntings and all! —Kristie Perrotte

spitbank fort

getting there. We arrive on a typical British day—stormy gales, massive waves—and take a literal leap of faith from the boat into the arms of an awaiting crew, relieved to not have lost anyone to the six-metre drop below (being greeted by a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne helps make our tempt with fate a distant memory). This hotel is incredible. Churchill propaganda posters, old soldiers’ remnants, naval artifacts (including two crates intended as benches but later discovered to contain live missiles)—the fort is as much of a living museum as it is a five star hotel. Our tour takes us on a circular excursion through cramped passageways, magnificently constructed with 15-foot granite walls up to the lighthouse, armoured with old canons and, on a clear day, offering a panoramic vista over to the Isle of Wight.

spitbank fort

seeing ghosts. Completed in 1878 following 17 years of cost overruns and political controversy, the grouping of four forts—of which Spitbank’s 50-metre diameter fortress is one—were erected to protect England from the threat of a French invasion under Louis Napoleon III. With the French turning attention to Prussia at the time, the fort never saw battle and, despite 150 men, stationed there during both World Wars, there was never a wartime shot fired. However, there was a death. During a military demonstration in 1910, Henry Attreal, a sergeant, was on the receiving end of a malfunctioning back-loaded gun. There he met his fate, but that wasn’t the end of him. Today, he haunts the fort, throwing dishes, moving bottles, hissing in people’s ears and following them with his hand laid on their shoulder. While not particularly aggressive, Henry is said to be rather “blustery, pissed off and feeling cheated from being blown apart” (why, we’d feel that way too!).

spitbank fort

living luxe. Sadly, Henry Attreal never materialized during our visit, though the fort is definitely creepy (in the best possible way) with ghostly noises, spine-tingling creaks and an eerie presence fitting of a Victorian relic. Following our tour we’re shown to our suite—the Lord Nelson room—which is large, elegantly decorated and one of only eight on the fort, with both a clawfoot bathtub and a telescope (read: perfect for soaking and scoping). Meals are plentiful and the wine list extensive, with large round tables facilitating a sociable vibe. In British fashion, it’s a Sunday Roast with all of the trimmings, plus a glass (or three) of Bordeaux. (In fact, there are a lot of French accents on the fort despite the obvious irony). Before dinner (yes, that was only lunch), guests are welcome to explore, enjoy the hot tub and challenge each other to a game of hook and ring. The formal dinner in the Officer’s Mess is decadent, as anticipated, and the evening’s entertainment includes a sabrage demo, team music trivia and even a midnight fishing expedition. All in all a luxurious throwback in time—with or without our poltergeist pal—and definitely worth a visit as part of a trip to London or wider British experience.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


get social


get more out of


Want the best, curated headlines and trends on the fly?

get more out of vita

Sign up for one, or sign up for all!