A Place to be Real Together

Frequently Asked Questions

We have 14 visitor bedrooms. In our busiest family weeks we can fit in up to 37. At other times anything between 12 and 24 is normal. The 7 members of the core community live in separate accommodation on site.
Yes - and twins, doubles and family rooms (but no en-suites). Just tell us your preference on the booking form.
From 2018 we are charging extra if you require a room on your own and can’t consider sharing (if necessary). We have to do this in order to keep Othona viable. On each event page a price for 'Adult' and 'Adult with Single Supplement' is quoted unless the event is a retreat where single rooms are assumed.
But there is nothing wrong with asking for a single room and asking for a bursary to offset the expense! (See 'How do I qualify for a busary' below.)
Best to book early for single rooms - sometimes we will only have space left if you're prepared to share.
Duvet, pillows and blankets are provided. You can bring your own duvet cover, bottom sheet, pillowcases and towels if you wish to save money. Or you can hire them from us at a one-off cost of £6 per person.
Residential events usually begin with supper at 6.30p.m. It helps us if you arrive after 4.00p.m. Departure times are mid-morning unless otherwise indicated.
This kind of extension is sometimes possible, particularly to bridge from one event to the next. Please ask us about the specific dates you have in mind. (Additional costs may apply.)
Yes. There is more information, with maps and transport links, on the Travel Tips page.
This is sometimes possible. See our Non-Resident page for more info.
You don't have to. Our bursaries are freely available to anyone who feels they need one. After all, some pensioners are comfortably off, while some people in full time work are very hard up because of their commitments. We trust your judgment about your own needs.
So if you need financial support to visit us please don’t be embarrassed about asking! We handle all bursary requests confidentially. And (unlike many organisations) you don’t need to prove anything to us. You don’t have to be receiving state benefits, for instance.
All you need do is indicate (online or when you phone/write to our Bookings team) that you’d like bursary assistance. Usually this will mean a reduction of up to 25%. If you are booking for more than one person, tick the 'Bursary request' box for each person you are requesting a bursary for. If your situation means you need more help than that, please tell us. See our Pricing Policy for more details.
From 2018, we no longer quote a concession price for events. If you can not afford the standard rate, consider requesting a bursary when you book.
Many of our family-friendly events make no charge at all for the eldest child in a family with two or more children aged 3 or over. Infants from 0-2 years old always stay free of charge. Families, like all visitors, can request a bursary if in need. Please get in touch with us to discuss in confidence.
Yes! Visit our How to Book page for details.
When you attend one of our events, we add your contact details to our database. When you set up an online booking account login, our database will recognise you and autofill your contact details - saving you time and typing! You can update your details when you are booking. You can also update just your name and address by using the LOGIN link at the bottom of each page of this website. You can cancel your online account anytime. If you want to learn more, visit our Policies section.
Yes! Online payment is our preferred payment method (by bank transfer or Paypal). For details see How to Book and How to Pay. If you have questions about payment, do get in touch us.
Each event page has the level of availability (Space Available, Almost Full, Full) under the event dates. This is a good guide but for various reasons cannot be 100% accurate, especially when we are nearing fully booked. That's why we look at every Booking Form and respond to you personally. We also start a Waiting List for full events. If you want more guidance on availability or have other questions please use the event page's Enquiry form, the Contact form or ring us on 01308 897 130.
This is a service we don't offer. You can find places which do through www.retreats.org.uk
This is sometimes possible; please email or phone (bookings@othona-bb.org.uk or 01308 897 130) to enquire about specific dates. Many people looking for an informal retreat experience find our Quiet Weeks and Open Spaces, with a balance of chill out and community, meet their needs.
Our 'Sabbatical Stays' can be anything from a fortnight to a month. Please see our Sabbatical Stays page and contact us if you wish to explore possibilities. Use of our library and/or the art room could be just the thing for your sabbatical or career break. The library is particularly rich in spirituality of many faiths and radical Christian theology. The art room has a range of materials you are welcome to use - or bring your own. We cannot offer prolonged stays where your main needs are therapeutic. Othona only has living space for those who work as part of the core community.
Yes, occasionally. We have a few openings each year for 'outside group' bookings not advertised in our own Programme. We find this works where you are not looking for 'just another venue' but want the special ethos of a community. Please contact the warden (tony@othona-bb.org.uk or 01308 897 130) to discuss possibilities.
All our communal rooms and two downstairs bedrooms are wheelchair-accessible. There is a hearing loop in the chapel. Assistance dogs are an exception to Othona's general no dogs rule.
We always aim to provide home-cooked, healthy, scrumptious meals (see Food, Glorious Food). We grow some of our own food and use a lot of produce which is local (West Dorset is a bit of a foodie heaven), organic or fairly traded. We cater at all times for vegetarians as well as meat-eaters. If you have a serious medical intolerance to any foodstuffs please make sure you notify us at time of booking – then we will clarify whether we can exclude them from the menu.
With our small kitchen we cannot promise special meals for those on other dietary regimes. If that’s you, we hope you’ll find plenty to nourish and delight you in what we do serve. Please do bring any supplementary food you are likely to need; ask for fridge space if you need it; but realise that you won’t usually be able to cook it at Othona. We always stock soya milk, gluten-free bread and rice cakes and our local town, Bridport, has various specialist food shops.
Yes! Community life means we share a few simple tasks such as washing up and preparing vegetables, usually one each per day. Approached in a spirit of care and co-operation they can be more like gifts than chores.
We have wifi, although signal strength can vary from room to room. Othona generally offers an opportunity for a bit of a 'digital detox' and a rest from the chatter of tv, radio, etc - except occassional use of media for discussion.  If you listen to radio or music in your room, we trust you'll keep it quiet and not disturb others. (Please bring earphones.) Also we ask that electronic games are left at home.
All mobile networks now have coverage at Othona, if sometimes a bit patchy. Urgent messages can be left for you if necessary on our office phone 01308 897 130.
Who can ever predict? But seriously, we usually design events during school holidays to be family-friendly. Most children adjust quickly to community life and love its freedoms. Visit our Facebook group, Instagram and our photo and video galleries. These will literally give you a picture of how other children and young people experience Othona West Dorset. We ask that electronic gaming consoles, tablets, etc are left at home so as to leave room for interaction and creative play. We have an established child protection policy.
Othona values diversity and aims to break down barriers of age, sex, race, ability and background. We were pioneers among Christian centres in actively welcoming people regardless of sexual orientation. Learn more about Othona's beginnings and our values and beliefs.
You don't have to be Christian to enjoy Othona or to be welcome here. Many Othona people are Christian, but some are of other faiths. And many others are reluctant to be identified with any one religion, seeing themselves on a spiritual search. Only if you were indifferent or hostile to any such search would we suggest you think again about visiting Othona. Learn more about Othona's beginnings and our values and beliefs.
Spiritual health is about being fully human - which may or may not include being religious. Othona supports anybody who takes spiritual health seriously - by which we don't mean solemnly! ('Wholey' rather than 'Holy'?!) You won't encounter a lot of pious talk, nor pressure to share other people's beliefs. We hope you'll find 'soul nourishment' in our chapel – as well as on the beach, in the art room, round the dinner table. We have two pianos and an extensive collection of recorded music created for us by Fiona Heyes. Our library is a treasure house of books to stir the heart and feed the mind, particularly strong in progressive theology and multi-faith spirituality.
In a profoundly open sense – open-hearted and open-minded – which we believe Christianity at its best is. Here at Othona West Dorset we speak of being "rooted in the Christian heritage… open to the widening future". We honour the revolutionary heart of Jesus' teaching when Othona embraces and learns from people of all faiths and none. Could a Christianity evolving in the 21st century settle for less? How crucial it is that the world's great faiths should relax their defensiveness and explore common ground. Othona is one tiny step in that direction.
In recent years, with much help from kind donations, we completely renewed most of our toilets and showers, and replaced a dilapidated art and craft room by a new multi-purpose building, the Four Seasons Studio. In terms of programming, Othona is increasingly committed to activities that celebrate our immediate environment and that raise awareness and hope in the face of climate change and species extinction.
We're not sure, but it probably means "home". It was the Romans' name for a fort they built on the Essex coast. The garrison there may well have been conscripted from Sarmatia (modern Hungary) and "otthon" in their Magyar language would have meant home. 'Otthona' in modern Hungarian means 'home'. Out of the ruins of that fort rose a Christian church in AD654. Close by that church is the other (and first) Othona centre at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. Today the Othona Community is a far-flung network of people with a love for one or both centres. Newcomers and non-members are just as welcome as long-established Othona members.
We include lots of photos on our website (and in our brochures) to give a picture of our events, and of the stunning landscape of West Dorset. Most of the photos are taken during events by Othona residents and visitors. If you do not wish (or you do not wish your child) to appear in photographs, just let us know when you arrive. Also, we do usually make an announcement during the 'notices', asking visitors to tell us if they would like to remain out of any photographs. If a fellow visitor is taking photos, please feel free to tell them you don't wish to be included in photographs.

Othona is a diverse community where everyone who lives and works, or comes as a visitor is valued, included and made to feel at home. A fundamental part of our overall ethos is to be considerate of ourselves and others, and to recognise the impact of our behaviour on the wellbeing of other people. 

For these reasons Othona uses alcohol in a context of celebration, not as a part of everyday living. Those who do not use alcohol for whatever reason, need to feel that their choice is valued and respected. We do discourage the use of spirits at all times, since they are particularly problematic for many non-drinkers, and we ask for your support in this. These are our guidelines:

  • Alcohol is used in community activities only at the discretion of the Warden and in the context of a celebration.
  • When alcohol is being used in the Community non-alcoholic drinks of a suitably celebratory nature (i.e. not just tea, coffee, squash etc.) should always be available for those for whom alcohol is not appropriate. This applies to the Eucharist as well as social occasions.
  • Adequate notice will be given before alcohol is served.
  • Alcohol should only be available in moderate quantities.
Othona can only welcome trained assistance animals such as guide dogs. Please advise us when booking if you plan to bring one with you.
Othona West Dorset aims to be clear and responsible about the use of your data. Visit our Policies section for details of this and other policies.