Our Bench - New Forest Accessible Accommodation

Coronavirus Update

We listened to the Prime Minster announcement and we are delighted to say that we are Open from July 4th.

  • We will continue to follow guidance, and we will react on any news - locally or nationally as required, and we expect our guests to do the same.
  • We will keep washing our hands and encouraging guests to maintain good hygiene practices
  • We will be asking guests to stay 2 meters apart from us and from other guests
  • We will be wearing a mask where the situation dictates it - so please bring yours with you as we would like you to wear one too
  • Please get tested immediately if you have symptoms and return home if this is the case notifying us - as per the Government Guidelines. The current guidelines can be found here for our guests. https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.  and in return we will be doing the same and we will checking we are well before visiting any of the cottages to reduce any risk.
  • If you breach any of the current guidelines applicable in our area during your stay, we will be asking you to leave.

This page includes:

  • What to expect at Our Bench
  • What's Open and out 14 day forest holiday - where we share some of our favorite places.
  • Bookings Update 
  • The latest guidance on what you can and can not do in the New Forest area is here:

Current Restrictions that may affect your stay

We ask all guests to make sure that they are at all times following the latest UK Guidance / Law regarding holidays, if you are not you are possibly putting us at risk, and are not fulfilling your contract. We ask that you remember your duty of care to ourselves, our community and our other guests. If you are traveling in breach of this guidance / law and we have to shut down then you will be liable for any cancellations & loss of income that may occur.

Restrictions can change at any point and we will be following guidance that is in place on arrival day - or as soon as we become aware.

NEW: From the 14th October the Government will bring in a three tier system that explains local Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and what you can and can not do - if you put our postcode (SO41 8HH) if you will see we are at the lowest level - and what restrictions are in place locally. If you put in your postcode you can check what restrictions are in your local area, these apply whilst on holiday too - https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions or https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54373904 (the BBC one is simpler to understand) and we ask that all guests check they are aware of their restrictions and stick to them during their stay.

We must highlight it is the guests responsibility to ensure that all their party are able to travel, if you are in breach of the law and put our business at risk, we will be taking it further  - we are trusting you to keep us safe -  just as you are trusting us to keep you safe. - Updated 12th October 2020

Please note that:

Keep Hampshire safe

From Monday 14 September, gatherings of more than six people indoors or outdoors are banned in England. Our holiday accommodation has a maximum occupancy of five guests overnight or as per your contract, our terms and conditions state that "The number of persons using the accommodation at any time must not exceed eight (8)" - this is now superseded by the new law and no more than six people can be gathered at anyone time during your stay. If you are breaking the law then we will ask you to vacate from the property early, and no refund will be offered. Updated 9th September 2020.

How to meet with others safely: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing

We must highlight it is the guests responsibility to ensure that all their party are able to travel, if you are in breach of this and put our business at risk, we will be taking it further  - we are trusting you to keep us safe -  just as you are trusting us to keep you safe.


We hold a number of certificates for your reassurance including AA COVID Confident accreditation for our accommodation, Visit England Good to Go, Infection Control Training Certificate and Staying Covoid-19 secure.

What to Expect at Our Bench

Before you arrive

Guests booking direct automatically get sent a Welcome document prior to arrival, and we asking now that you contact us on the day before leaving for the cottages on our mobile to ensure there are no problems with the departing guests, and if you can let us know your approximate arrival time. We can then confirm everything with you, and let the cottages air as much as possible. We have enhanced our cleaning routine - which we have explained in the departure section - we may have not finished the outside spaces by the time you arrive.

When you arrive

We have always offered a key lock entry - so it is essential now that you make sure you have your key code, we have added hand gel nearby ready for you to use. Please let us know when you have arrived, and we will still pop by and say hello - but we will be respecting social distancing - we will wear masks on request (for some we know this is a barrier to communication) and we will happily answer any questions about your stay. 

The cottages will be cleaned ready for you, the beds made up - there will be the homely touches that make our holiday cottages a home away from home. We have considered carefully whether to include information on the local area, personal touches like plants, soft furnishings etc and we have done research on what we think guests would like - you are coming for a holiday, and over the years our guests have clearly said that is what they value.  We will steam the soft furnishings between guests.                

During your stay

During you stay if you show any sign of infection whilst staying with us, you must return home as soon as possible and notify us of the potential risk - as you could be putting other guests and ourselves at risk. This is as per the Government guidelines. If you are unable to return home you are liable to any costs of emergency accommodation, Guest First for example offer insurance in this occurs, this could include the costs of extending your stay and could be the costs occurred by the arriving guests as their holiday would be canceled. 

If any guidelines change during your stay, and we become aware of them, then we will be contacting you and may request you leave early depending on the information received. We appreciate your understanding and co-operation at this unprecedented time.

In all properties we have included extra soap and cleaning supplies. There is a basic first aid kit.  We recommend that you bring hand sanitizer with you, and take it out and about with you - particularly if you are planning on enjoying some walks in the forest or coastal picnics - as there are some lovely accessible walks that have gate latches that you would need to touch to keep the ponies out.

If you are staying in Little Bench or Bench Cottage please be aware of social distancing when using your front door, the shared laundry area and garden.  There are lots of reminders around the cottages and as you enter along with hand gel available for any visitors.

When you depart

We ask now that you send us a text on departure - letting us know that you have vacated the property, we will ask that you turn the heating down, and open all the windows that are not visible from the road, then lock up as normal and leave your key in the key safe. This is to ensure the property is aired fully before the next set of guests, and to help reduce any risks to ourselves, by sending us a text - we can ensure we can pop along as soon as we can.

We ask that you wipe down all surfaces on departure to reduce the risks for ourselves, in addition to our standard terms where we have always requested you leave the cottage as you would like to find it.

If you become ill or anyone if your party does with suspected Covid-19 within 48 hours of your departure, it is your duty of care to let us know, as soon as possible.  

Cleaning between guests.

Guest's whom have stayed with us before will know that the cottages have always been cleaned ready for your arrival. We have always cleaned the cottages thoroughly, ready for the next guests. This has always included comprehensively cleaning of kitchens and bathrooms, wiping all cupboards, vacuuming and floor washing as well as cleaning and tidying any shared spaces.

We have added extra cleaning equipment - we now have a specialist carpet cleaner and a steam cleaner - so that we can ensure that the soft furnishings can get a deep clean. We can share our cleaning checklist with you, and our risk assessment, based on guidelines provided by the Professional Association of Self-caterers.

Due to the additional work - lawns may not be mowed and gardening maintained on changeover days so we may be doing this during your stay, but we will be maintaining social distancing as we work.

NHS Test and Trace

We ask for contact detail of all guests staying overnight in the cottages for Test and Trace details - from 24th September we understand that everyone can use the Covid-19 app - there will be a QR code to scan as you enter your holiday cottage - it keeps you logged in for 24 hours - so we advise logging in daily, and if you have any visitors (no more than 6 are allowed on the premises socially) that they log in too - so they be contacted if necessary - the app and further information can be downloaded here: https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/

What is Open for us to do?

Is the New Forest Open

The New Forest is following the same guidelines as the rest of the England - I will be continually updating this section so please refresh it for the latest details. Some attractions have limited numbers -so please check at least 2 weeks prior to arrival if something requires booking - it does vary. Local Restaurants and coffee shops are also recommending reserving tables, but in theory the New Forest is back to normal - so check out our Lymington, New Forest and further afield guides.

If you are meeting with friends and family in the area please note that, gatherings of more than six people indoors or outdoors are banned in England.

More than 6 people on our premises for social gatherings is against the law and we may ask you to leave, and we would really appreciate it if you do not put our local accessible business at risk by gathering in larger groups.

We have updated our 2 week visitors guide to the New Forest, which showcases some of our favorite places with what is open as of the 20th June.
  • The New Forest National Park Car Parks are open. For the latest information as it can change: New Forest Car Parks
  • The Coastal Car Parks are open - contact-less payment only. You need to download the Ringo app.
  • Public toilets - All NFDC public toilets are open.
  • Everything that is permitted to open from the 4th July - will do so... there may be various safety measures in place - always check they are open, only enter if you feel safe, be alert and please respect social distancing guidelines or individual businesses!
Unique Covid-19 Services and Eating Out - Details subject to change.

This is forever changing... we are not promising to include everything but it is a great resource to refer too during your stay- there are some restrictions in place, so we are sharing some of them here - but we do suggest you check Online to ensure they are open and are able to accommodate you. At the moment it is a great opportunity to enjoy the New Forest's open space and your stay at Our Bench differently - most of these link to facebook pages, and the information is subject to change.

  • Pennington - in our local village the Tesco Metro and Post Office is open, the chemist is open and the fish and chip is open - cash only, order and wait for your meal. At Foxpond the Chinese, Indian and fish and chip shops are open, Dominos pizza also delivery.   
  • Lymington - the same restrictions apply as the rest of the county. The local shops can accommodate most of our day to day needs, most of the shops are reopen from the 15th June including lots of our independent shops which help make Lymington so special.  
  • Lymington Market (Saturdays)  and Christchurch (Monday's) have re-opened.
  • Waitrose in Lymington offer a click and collection shop - a great way to purchase your food, and have it ready for collection when you get here.
  • #DineInDeluxe - a local catering company will come and cook a 3 course meal on your driveway, service is with social distancing measures and they do the washing up - price from £45 a head, advance booking required.
  • Bridges of Lymington - Bridges are offering freshly prepared meals for collection or local delivery only Please call direct on 01590 - 688862 before 10:30 for same-day delivery or 11 am for next-day delivery, Menu for the next few weeks is on their web site. All meals from this menu are £7.95 and £3.50 for a dessert if purchased with a meal. Meals for Saturday or Sunday will be delivered on Friday. A great way to save cooking!
  • Forest Tandoori - collection only - Indian takeaway.
  • Naked Pantry - reduced packaging grocery store - delivers to Pennington on Fridays - min order £25
  • W Bellows Fruit and Veg - delivers to Pennington on a Saturday. 
  • Pennington Pharmacy - local chemist within walking distance
  • St Marks Church - new church service broadcast every Sunday on their You Tube Channel.
  • Fish and Chips in the Square - open as usual - cash.
  • Shallowmead Nurseries is a wonderful garden center home to Mabel's Cafe - you can enjoy coffee and Gelatos, and even purchase fresh local produce in their shop. There is a quiet garden space to enjoy.
  • The Laughing Chef - check out their facebook page - they deliver Sushi to the door, very popular, homemade Sushi, advance booking is required and delivering Wednesdays and Thursdays!
  • Rosie Lea at Brockenhurst is a tea room and restaurant with a large garden space, disabled same entrance and accessible toilet and plenty of inside seating too!
  • The Royal Oak at Beaulieu - wheelchair friendly - great food. Check for the latest details - but booking is advised.
  • Beachcoomber Cafe on Barton Cliff Top is a great place to have  lunch or a coffee and enjoy a sea view.
  • Coffee and Drift - a great independent coffee house on Lymington Quay open for takeaways - great location to watch the boats.
  • La Perle - in Milford on Sea, delivers Fish and chips on Mondays, and then has a different menu Tuesday to Saturday - so dinner can be delivered you your door, in June - check to see if this still applies.
  • Hampshire Fayre - Stay Loyal stay local campaign is all about supporting local Hampshire businesses and there is lots of information here on local farm shops, local delivery and local retailers.    
  • And more businesses are being added to this list on  Lymington.com - please support our New Forest businesses during your stay.
Attractions and places to visit - most on open ... would recommend checking web site for details if you need to prebook.
  • Highcliffe Beach and the Cliffhanger - the Cliffhanger Cafe at Highcliffe a lovely accessible walk on the cliff top or down to the sea and then their cafe is open for takeaway coffee, ice cream and freshly made pizza - a fantastic treat for lunch.
  • Lepe Country Park and other Hampshire Country Parks are now open - the toilets are open too - including the accessible loo's - can get busy, their facebook pages advises when the car parks are full and they have restricted numbers. 
  • New Forest Adventure Golf - opening details on their web site.
  • Bucklers Hard - open spaces are now open, enjoy the quiet street, views of Beaulieu River and ice cream - toilets available.
  • Paultons Park - the south's amazing theme park is open from the 4th July - limited numbers, so booking recommended - tickets are released on a Friday. 
  • Sculpture by the Lakes - these delightful gardens are due to reopen on the 3rd of June - with a takeaway cafe and seating spread out around their gardens.
  • Exbury Gardens - you can enjoy a wonder through the beautiful gardens, grab a coffee from their cafe - just outside the grounds -  that is offering takeouts. Online bookings as numbers in the garden are limited.
  • Beaulieu  -you need to rebook Online - carers can be prebooked for free. Reduced admission after 3pm some afternoons.
  • Furzey Gardens is open     
  • Moors Valley Country Park - miles of pathways, accessible walks, a lakeside walk, fantastic play areas and more are open for you to enjoy. Latest details of facilities open see their web site. School holidays they close when their car park is filled 0 updates on their facebook page.
  • Hampshire and Isle of Wight Attractions - a list of attractions that are now open, updated by a 3rd party organisation.
  • National Trust Gardens have reopened - advance booking required due to limited numbers in some cases. Tickets for Mottisfont are released on a Friday for the week ahead.
  • Hilliers Garden at Romsey is open - a lovely tranquil spot, my mum enjoys visiting there in her Power Chair . 
  • New Forest Activities - are offering a range of kayaking, archery and other activities for you to enjoy. 
  • Libertys Owl and Reptile Park - open with a one way system
  • Insight Activities open - family groups of up to 4 people only, advance booking required.  
  • New Forest Wildlife Park - is now open and welcoming guests back - with a great one way system and lots of open space and no advance booking required. Toilets are open and so is the Cafe which is just outside the park!   
  • Marwell Zoological Park - ALL guests will need to book online in advance.
  • St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery- Open
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Highcliffe Beaches - they have come together to create an app that tells you how busy it is at the beach and whether it is a safe time to visit - with social distancing possible. The android version is available here: Beach Check

Face masks

If you forget your face mask / face covering and would like one then we have a disposable one we can sell you (£1 each) but we would encourage you to use a reusable one and wash it often as per our green ethics - the disposable ones contains plastic particles and take a while to bring down. You can get them locally:

  • Elliots - is an independent department store in Lymington and it sells packs of two reusable face masks.
  • Truffles in Lymington High Street an independent sweet store is selling handmade masks.
  • Crystals at the top of Lymington High Street.
  • Most local shops

If you are exempt from wearing a face mask - the government advise downloading this PDF and saving it to your phone so it is always with you, it also includes a page to share if you can not hear someone and need to lip read. We would recommend wearing a sunflower lanyard if this is the case - details of the scheme can be found here: Hidden Disabilities - and we have some available at the cottages you can purchase for a £1.

Last Updated: July 27th 2020

Covid Symptom Tracker

We have been supporting the Covid Symptom tracker since it was first started... a recent updated announced a "new feature introduces the idea of a permanent home address (where you live most of the time) and an additional address for where you are currently staying." This means you can change your location whilst you are on holiday (use SO41 8HH) , so that you can continue to monitor wherever you are. https://covid.joinzoe.com/data - this is a great way to see possible HotSpots in future and determine where higher risks may be. We are currently a low risk area (September 2020)

Bookings Update

Booking with confidence
We have fully paid for our holiday direct with Our Bench

Fantastic - we are delighted you booked direct for the best prices. If you have fully paid directly with us and your circumstances change then a reminder of our cancellation policy

  • Cancellation made between 8 weeks and day of arrival date,  and if we are able to relet – we will refund your balance minus your £200 deposit. It is not our policy to return the deposit as we have costs that would have already occurred. - £200 Deposit Retained.   If you are unable to travel then contact your insurance company. We recommend in our terms and conditions that you take out travel insurance.

  • On the 1st June we introduced a temporary Covid-19 reassurance policy ... to reduce any risks to ourselves and to you.

  • Postponements due to Covid-19  - up to 12 hours prior to arrival date –  with up to date evidence that you have had to isolate because of symptoms (we will need to see this)  we will issue credit on request on our booking system for the balance of your holiday minus the deposit – this has to be used within 6 months of your arrival day for the same named guests and can be used towards the balance of a new booking – once you have paid a new deposit. All holiday deposits are non refundable. - £200 Deposit Retained. Balance – credit note for a holiday commencing within 6 months of arrival day, valid with us only.
    Suitable Evidence includes as Isolation note available through NHS111 Online a notification from the NHS test and track service, as detailed in the workplace guidance. 

    For example if you holiday was £895 plus a £75 cleaning retainer…  you feel you may have symptoms of Covid-19 the day before your holiday commences and call and let us know, we will hold your cleaning retainer, and credit your account for £695 – which must be used within 6 months of your arrival day, towards the balance of another holiday – a new deposit for new dates is still payable. If the six months pass and you are unable to rebook – let us know and we will return the cleaning retainer.
Please note our terms and conditions have been updated for all bookings made direct with us
and we are delighted to offer you some Covid-19 reassurance... so you can book safely for the weeks ahead.

Our booking is through a 3rd party - OTA - such as Disabled Holidays, Airbnb, Disabled Access Holidays

We have booked through a 3rd party agent - we have to deal with that company direct and the terms they have set. Our Book with Confidence is for direct bookings only - these terms are not agreed with your 3rd party booking agent or OTA and we will be working with the terms they have specified. Please note our 3rd party agents do not book with our Covid-19 postponement option - if you are unable to attend once you have paid your balance then this is considered a cancellation and no refund will be given.

New Bookings

You are able to book contact free through our website. We no longer take direct bookings from OTA's through our web site - they need to book via phone or email. This is the only way to book as your terms are not the same as the ones for Direct Bookings. We work with your terms.

If you are coming to stay from outside the UK then please check the UK Government Website to see if any restrictions are in place, that may affect your travel.

We are not taking bookings from guests whom need to self isolate. Currently if guests need to isolate for 14 days, we are unable to offer accommodation, partly due to the fact that you may need to isolate for a further 7 days, which may effect our next booking so you will be held liable for the extra costs occurred and the cost of your extended stay payable immediately but also due to the specialist nature of our accommodation we feel that you would impose too higher risk to our other guests. Self Isolation guidance is here.


Last Updated 1st JUNE 2020