Now initially I thought there was nothing strange at all about the time I stayed on a historic fort in the middle of the English Channel. But then we spotted Fort Clonque amid the weird and wonderful hotels of unusualhotelsoftheworld.com, and I realised that it could be considered a little, well, bizarre.
The best way to introduce the fort is with a very speedy run through Fort Clonque’s history:
Fort Clonque was initially constructed in the 1840s as a defence against the French Navy’s increasing steam power. Then the British got even better at making steam ships, good enough that they abandoned their post at Fort Clonque, along with others like it on the Channel Island of Alderney. The fort was later taken over by the Nazis when they occupied the island during WW2. It was abandoned again after the war – until the Landmark Trust took on the property and refurbished it into a holiday rental. Some years later Fort Clonque became dealchecker’s bizarre hotel of the month. I think we’re up to date now.
The bizarreness begins before you even set sight on the fort. For a start you have to get to Alderney. That means getting in a plane that looks like this:
This plane is an amazing experience for anyone who has never travelled in anything smaller than a jumbo jet before. But here’s a tip; try not to comment on any resemblance between the plane and a rickshaw within earshot of the pilot.
Next you get to land on Alderney; it’s a small airport as you can tell from this view of the runway:
As you might imagine, the queues for baggage reclaim are pleasantly short.
Since the fort is only about a mile from the airport (the same can be said for most points on Alderney…) it’s possible to just walk there. There are amazing views of the fort on the walk over, although the zig-zag route down the cliffs is not kind to suitcases.
So what’s it like to stay in? Well, incredibly comfy actually – no military style dorms remain here. Instead Landmark Trust have moved in bouncy mattresses, fluffy towels and a roomy rainfall shower.
Rooms are dotted all around the fort, so you could end up sleeping in the cosy war rooms, or in the German Casement which was once a Nazi gun turret. Check out the window with the amazing sea view:
Sure, there’s a slight inconvenience if you have to cross a fort just to use the loo during the night, but that’s a small price to pay for getting to stay in a gatehouse overlooking a causeway.
…. which leads me to the causeway. The fort gets completely cut off from the mainland when the tide is high enough. You’re unlikely to ever be cut off for long, but popping to the shops for a pint of milk can require some pre-planning.
As with all Landmark Trust properties there are no TVs. If that sounds antiquated to you, consider that the fort only had electricity installed in the 1980s – a decision that caused a huge uproar at the time if the guestbook logs are to be believed.
Since the fort can sleep up to 13 people the lack of TV isn’t really noticed in favour of generating your own entertainment. Just a few wholesome entertainment ideas for you:
Star gazing from the top of the fort
Plot world domination from the war rooms (AKA a game of Risk)
Keep up some military traditions. Every morning we raised the Union Jack over the fort, accompanied by a rousing bugle fanfare and an oh-so-solemn ceremony
It’s also just about the perfect spot for a game of Sardines
For more details about Fort Clonque, or other amazing historic buildings you can stay in see the Landmark Trust website.