Ideally located in The New Forest and only 30 mins from Bournemouth we had a lovely few days away. The added extras such as the Xbox, a smart TV, gas barbeque, rainforest showers, blackout blinds in the bedroom and a hottub made it easy with the children and fun to be back to at night. The cost of the stay was perfectly priced for us even with the additional payment for use of the hottub. The only issue was that the garden could not be used but I understand this is going to be sorted.
There's an old saying - "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear". The owners of Forest Haven have tried very hard to do this by fitting out a double "static caravan" as a luxury hotel suite. In some areas they have done well but in others there were serious shortcomings.
The lounge area has comfortable sofas, a gigantic TV and all sorts of entertainment extras. There is a kitchen with plenty of worktop and cupboards. The bedrooms have large comfortable beds. The bathrooms have good contemporary fittings and tiles. Heating and hot water work well. The property is dog-friendly, which was a big plus for us. The cabin was very clean and tidy and our hopes were high.
Instructions that were emailed to us were 67 pages long! Rather than print it all out we noted the arrival details thinking we could download the rest when we arrived. The internet didn’t throughout our stay so we had to use data roaming, at some cost, to download it to our iPad. It then turned out that a lot of the information in the document related to a different cabin and was useless.
Then, there were big issues that were not resolved satisfactorily. The biggest was that the enclosed portion of garden and the area beneath the cabin were waterlogged with foul smelling liquid that made the decking unusable unless the wind was blowing away from the cabin. We were told that there was a spring in the garden that would be drained in June but the smell was clearly NOT spring water. It turned out that they knew all along that the cesspit, adjacent to the garden, was overflowing because the soakaways were flooded by ground water and couldn’t cope with the load from the properties on site. A lorry came to empty it the day before we left. The driver looked shocked. Even when shown a photograph of the stains from the overflowing cesspit the owners claimed that it was the spring washing soil into the tank – in my experience liquid flows downhill and the garden is lower than the cesspit lid. By the next morning, as we left, the ground had dried out which confirmed that the cesspit was the source of the liquid. It will be contaminated for some time so our advice is not to stray from the decking! A team of gardeners also came on our penultimate day. They tried to strim the overgrown “lawn” but had to leave the contaminated area for fear of being splattered with effluent. The owners suggested that we could use the rest of the 3 acre site, but that was no consolation for not being able to use the outdoor dining area and barbeque. Thank goodness we hadn’t booked the jacuzzi.
Then there is the description of the property. It is not in a quiet rural lane, but immediately adjacent to a very busy garden centre with constant traffic virtually all day. They claim that this only happens in the spring season but don’t advise tenants about it. There was no washing machine or tumble drier, as advertised, though, one of the two garden huts on the decking had plumbing and wiring ready for them. It transpires that the owner didn’t even realise that they were still in a garage waiting to be installed. The second hut had a dishwasher! Who wants to carry their washing up out into the garden to clean? No-one, it would seem, as the machine hasn’t been used yet.
The caravan itself has the feel of a DIY conversion. On arrival, after a brief shower of rain, there was a pool of water from a leak around the stove flue pipe. There were water stains in the second bedroom ceiling where there has been a leak too. Skirtings and architraves are generally badly fitted and coming unstuck from the walls in several places. The hand-rail on the decking is so wobbly that it feels close to collapsing. The bi-fold doors are jamming on the cill, probably because the weight of the roof cannot be supported across the wide opening. We eventually found the remote control for the alarm system, which we were requested to set on departure, hidden on top of the fuse box in the kitchen cupboard. It turned out that the alarm didn’t have a power supply anyway! The shower heads in the bathrooms are so low that you can’t stand under them if you are more than 6 feet tall. Shaving sockets are at skirting level a long way from the bathroom mirrors. There are lots of signs of settlement in the structure with grouting and caulking falling out.
Luxury is not about expensive fittings – it’s about attention to detail. One tea towel for a week long stay is inadequate. There was a dustpan and brush and a hoover but no broom, cleaning cloth or floor mop (essential to clean up muddy footprints from the boggy garden). There were no hooks to hang a dressing gown. The computer didn’t connect with the keyboard provided so couldn’t be used. The firewood we pre-ordered for £29 turned out to be a small basket of 21 logs that would have cost £10 from the local garage. A dustbin for the rubbish only appeared on our last day after two enquiries about what we were to do with it.
Previous reviews have highlighted some of these problems, so they are ongoing, and have been met with the same sort of indignant responses and denials that we had. We even suggested that a partial refund might be appropriate under the circumstances but there was no acceptance that anything was wrong. Under the circumstances we can’t give more than one star.
We stayed for a long weekend at Forest Haven and having read the reviews before our arrival I had concerns. Previous reviews mention a waterlogged area in the garden, which was the case and we were notified before our stay. However, I was relieved to find that there were no unpleasant smells (as per other reviews) and the area leading from the decking to the gate was completely dry which meant we had access to a few acres.
Also the large decking area was more than big enough and has the hot tub sunk into it (which is an absolute must for any stay), so we had no complaints about access to outside space.
The property itself is a modern lodge style building and everything inside was lovely and modern. The bedrooms were both of a good size and both bathrooms had nice waterfall showers. Everything was squeaky clean and very comfortable. There isn't a fitted hob or oven but the gas BBQ looked brand new and the property is in close proximity to a couple of nice pubs and restaurants.
All in all I would say it's a cut above your standard self catering holiday letting and would definitely visit again.
Stayed here with my wife, the cabin is ok and comfortable but the garden is awful, the decking was ok (if you discount the wobbly handrails!!) The garden is a stinking swamp full of flies and rubbish, all underneath the cabin is waterlogged. We were not told of this before we stayed, we wanted to eat outside but couldn't due to the stench.
The Hot Tub was set to 40 degrees which was way too hot.
The location is good, with a great restaurant very close but there is a very busy garden centre right next door which creates a lot of noise.
Some of the photos showing on this property listing are not the actual cabin or the grounds (for example, one of the photos shows a kitchen with a cooker hob - there isn't one and the garden shot is clearly taken before the cabin was erected.)
nice and quiet location, garden centre close by, comfy beds and settees, great stay. two pubs close by. all though we never used them, not too far from marwell zoo, well worth the trip, not far from salisbury, lots of horses and cattle roaming around, loved it