Our Bench - New Forest Accessible Accommodation

Coronavirus Update

We are open to Holiday Guests     

We open for holiday guests from the 12th April and two households from the 17th May - latest updated information can be found here.

  • May 25th - the Professional Association of Self Caterers made us aware of new guidance -  in areas with the “new variant” affected by rapid spread (identified in the guidance) people should minimise travel in and out of those areas and maintain social distance. This is guidance only at this stage, please do not pay the balance on your holiday if you feel this will affect your stay, and you don't wish to travel, so we have the opportunity to relet. We can only offer a refund if we are able to relet, or if our area is told to close. We appreciate it if you are coming from a higher risk area that you all take all take a negative covid test prior to travel, to reduce the risk to ourselves and our community and again during your stay.  The latest information is here: Covid Variants Spreading

From 21st June - provisionally all social contact restrictions will be lifted - we are waiting to here more.

We must highlight it is the guests responsibility to ensure that all their party are able to travel, and their purpose of stay is within law 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.


This page includes:

 

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.

  • We really appreciate guests who take a Covid Test before they choose to travel, as it is a great way to keep our community safe - and they are now available for every one in England free of charge. The nearest place to pick up a home test for Covid  during your stay if your forget youres is here in Pennington - Pennington Pharmacy but we have found this handy link - nhs.uk/gettested - we are ensuring that our team has tested negative before entering the cottages on changeover day, for your peace of mind.
  • All our cleaning crew and your hosts have now received both their Covid-19 vaccines for your peice of mind - we are aware this offers at 85% reduction in catching and passing on the viruse but we will still be following all the currnt guidance.
  • We will be asking all guests for their name, address and contact details (phone number) - which we legally have to retain up to 21 days after your stay, in case of an outbreak. If you have visitors or carers we ask that they log in with the NHS Track and Trace, there is the facility to log in by your cottage door.
  • 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 regularly undergoing rapid lateral flow Covid tests for your piece of mind, and to ensure our cleaning team do not have the virus when servicing the cottages.  
  • We will be asking guests to stay 2 meters apart from us and from other guests.
  • We are delighted to hear many of our guests have been vaccinated, we would still appreciate them to follow the guidance, as not everyone in the local community has been.
  • 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.
  • We encourage all guests to read the current guidelines on Covid-19 - they can can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/Coronavirus.  
  • If you breach any of the current guidelines applicable in our area during your stay, we will be asking you to leave.
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, get tested immediately and 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. 

We appreciate guests whom are able to take lateral flow tests and are able to feel reassured they have had a negative result before coming on holiday - and again whilst they are away, as per the Government guidelines.

If you have any visitors / carers then please ask them to scan in with the NHS Track and Trace code ready by your door - this records the results for each 24 hour period, so please check in daily.           

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.

Guests 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 2020, 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)  or carers then they must log in too - so they be contacted if necessary - the app and further information can be downloaded here: https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/   If for any reason they are unable to log in, you must keep a record of their contact details for 21 days in case they need to be reached. This applies to everyone over the age of 16.

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, we will be sharing the latest information on our facebook page - along with local special offers and more, as well as some information below.

  • We have updated our 2 week visitors guide to the New Forest, which showcases some of our favorite places.
  • The New Forest National Park Car Parks are open.
  • 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 May 17th ... 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! The latest guidance is here.

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 Market (Saturdays)  and Christchurch (Monday's)
  • 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.
  • Forest Tandoori - collection only - Indian takeaway.
  • 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 - and even purchase fresh local produce in their shop. There is a quiet garden space to enjoy. Opens 15th June
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 - limited numbers, so book online - tickets are released on a Friday. 
  • 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 book online - carers can be prebooked for free.
  • Furzey Gardens is open prebooking required some weekends
  • 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 - updates on their facebook page.
  • 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 - now open and flying sessions resummed.
  • Insight Activities open - 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 - now reopened
  • 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

Booking Update

Questions regarding our holiday as restrictions have changed since booking.

Everybody booking direct with us ticked a box on booking saying that they agreed our holiday terms and conditons and acknowledged that they were advised to take out travel insurance. We are a small business - we have huge ongoing costs, that need to be covered to ensure that we are able to offer accessible holidays to our clients - we totally understand that you may be shielding, or a higher risk group - we are doing everything we can to ensure our accommodation is as safe as possible, but all our guests have chosen to book with us because of the enhance facilities that we offer. We would love to be able to refund everyone if their situation changes, but we can't afford to do that unless we relet ... with as much notice as possible - and your help, sharing our accommodation with your friends and colleagues - we will try and relet - we are also offering potential guests the opportunity to join a waiting list or possibly stay for a last minute weekend or mid week break. 

We have paid our deposit and are unsure whether we can not attended

We appreciate as much notice as possible that you have changed you mind, and that circumstances have changed. Please get in touch as soon as possible, we can suggest offering you a full refund if we are able to relet (with more than 8 weeks notice) at this stage, we can offer the booking for sell - and honor your credit if you choose to rebook the same dates closer to the arrival day. If you choose instead not to pay the balance - then the booking is automatically canceled.

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. We remain open and are able to accommodate people for work or essential needs even in a higher Tier so if you need to cancel please give us as much notice as possible.

  • 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.
    NOTE: Suitable Evidence is Isolation note available through NHS111 Online a notification from the NHS test and track service, as detailed in the workplace guidance. We
    will need your 16 digit number and date of birth to validate your postponement.

    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.

Our booking is through a 3rd party - OTA

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 if you are unable to attend once you have paid your balance then this is considered a cancellation and no refund will be given.

7th January Update: Disabled Holidays currently are not fulfilling their contract with us - they have paid the deposit of holidays, our contract with them specifies they pay the balance 10 weeks prior to your arrival - we are contacting them and reminding them of this, if they do not confirm your holiday then we have a right to cancel it based on none payment and none communication, and can not be held responsible. When contacting Disabled Holidays to chase payments we receive an automated response that states: " If we have not been able to contact you in time regarding your holiday if affected by the pandemic or you have missed us calling please do contact the property owner if you are unable to travel and we will contact you with your options once our team are back in." - our contract is with them, we have not been paid for your holidays and are unable to resolve th`1is situation.

5th March Update: - we discovered via facebook this evening that  Disabled Holidays has ceased trading on the 26th February - we are trying to contact them to find out why they have not fulfilled their contract with us. Our terms and conditions state that any holiday where the balance has not been received will be automatically canceled - we have limited contact information for guests, so can not always contact them to check whether they wish for the holiday to go ahead. 

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, the bookings on the agency are often less flexible.

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.

Last Minute Booking / Waiting List

We are delighted to receive last minute bookings - if the week is available and you are fit and well to travel - we would love to see you. Our web site holds the most up to date information - but you are welcome to call us - we are updating with cancellations, hold a waiting list for key dates in case people do cancel - so if you have any questions then please email us: cottages@ourbench.co.uk or give us a call on 0775 1064167    

Additional Questions and Answers

When will the Restrictions change

We do not know when the restrictions will be updated - we find out whenever there is a new Government announcement. All we ask is that all guests 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, and in return we will do all we can to follow and implement the latest guidance as soon as we can.

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. We recommend as always that guests take out holiday insurance.

We are not well enough to travel home

If you are unable to travel home and need to self isolate at our property then 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, and could be liable for the cancellation of guests in the neighboring cottage too. Self Isolation guidance is here.

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.

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.

Entering the UK from abroad

The restrictions vary depending on where you are traveling from. The UK guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control  Please ensure that you follow the guidance and  you have arranged the necessary additional time prior to booking or paying the balance on your holiday. It is also advisable to have holiday and medical insurance.

  • If you are on the "red list" please notify us as soon as possible as your holiday can not take place but we will only refund if we are able to relet, as we are allowed to open.
  • If you have travelled through or come from a county on the "Amber list", you will need to remember to allow 10 days from the day after you arrive in the UK to stay in Quarantine - and to arrange two Covid Tests - and take tests on day 2 and day 8 - you need to notify us you are quarantining so we can advice you on how to get shopping delivered etc.
  • If you arrive from a county on the "green list" - you have to take a test on day 2, if this is positive then you have to quarantine at our property and you will be liable for any costs occured as we will have to cancel the next guests booking, and you have to pay for additional stay period as you can't travel onwards.
  • These two links are helpful. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-quarantine-when-you-arrive-in-england and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england
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

Last Updated 25th May 2021