Here’s why retro caravans with original features and wild surrounds are one of the coolest camping options around.
The Scrumpling, Somerset
Owners Ralph and Lucy found this 1950s caravan at the bottom of a field, where it had been abandoned. They restored it and fitted it with a double bed, kitchenette and bathroom, and even a mini wine cellar. The van is on a hill on Lucy’s family farm near the village of Umberleigh, Devon, and has views over the Taw valley. It is insulated and connected to a biomass boiler (which is fuelled using wood from trees grown on the farm), so it is warm in winter. There is a covered terrace with a chiminea, pizza oven and barbecue, and – the pièce de résistance – a hot tub in a converted Land Rover.
From £130 a night self-catering, sleeps two, littleplaceinthecountry.com
This forest-green caravan is in a large area of land, with a stream and wooded walk, near the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, not far from the southern end of Loch Ness. There is a kitchenette, dining area, two sofas that turn into a double bed and a shower room. The van is under shelter and has outdoor seating and a fire pit. Guests can book the wood-burning hot tub, Finnish sauna and aromatherapy steam room, and the barbecue hut, provided with locally sourced meat and vegetables. There are walks through the woods and hills, leading to waterfalls and picnic spots, and wildlife including sika and red deer, black grouse, pine martens, woodpeckers and birds of prey. The owner is an artist and runs workshops that include a forest walk and studio session.
From £152 for two nights, sleeps two, airbnb.co.uk
Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans, Herefordshire (pictured above)
A quartet of caravans are in a wildflower meadow and copse in the grounds of an old rectory near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. They are Gertie, a rare 1930s model; Sybil, a handmade 1940s van; Monty, a second world war military wagon; and Elsie, a 1950s van. All have original features and outdoor seating; three have wood burners and Monty has a private deck. There are communal showers, toilets, a summer kitchen and campfire, and an honesty shop selling farm produce, ice-cream and cider. Guests can hire individual vans or the site, and pitch a tent next to their van at no extra cost.
From £200 for two nights for four people, vans sleep two to five, maddogsandvintagevans.co.uk
Fishing Hut, Scottish Borders
This hybrid hideaway is in the grounds of a 1700s water mill, on the banks of the Boondreigh, a small river four miles from the town of Lauder. One end is a vintage caravan, which houses the bedroom, and the other end is a wooden cabin, containing the living, cooking and dining areas. The cabin has a stove for cooking and heating, a sofa and day bed, and a little reading nook. There is an eco toilet just outside, and a communal wash house a few minutes’ walk away. The property has two decks: one overlooking the river and one that catches the evening sun and has a fire pit.
From £120 for two nights, sleeps up to three, oneoffplaces.co.uk
Van Goff, Powys
The Van Goff is a 1970s static caravan, still decked out in retro style but with some modern additions, such as LED lights, a fridge, a shower and a flushing loo. There is a wood burner inside and a raised deck with a chiminea outside. The van is in woodland in the grounds of Bodynfoel Hall, a 242-hectare (600 acre) estate with a river for swimming and a lake for boating (the rowing boat is shared with two yurts). It is an easy riverside walk to the village of Llanfechain, about a mile away, which has a pub and shop.
From £190 for two nights, sleeps up to three adults or two adults and two children, canopyandstars.co.uk
Nyth Robin is a small site in the Snowdonia national park with nine pitches for tourers, plus a handful of glamping options, including Cerys the caravan. Cerys, a refurbished 1960s van, has a hand-painted exterior featuring a woodland scene, and a swinging 60s interior: baby-blue kitchen, warm yellow walls and period fixtures. There is a double bed and a pull-out small single. The van is in the corner of the campsite with private outdoor space and a fire pit, a short walk from the toilets and showers. The site comprises a large area of woodland alongside the Dyfi estuary, a few miles outside the seaside village of Aberdyfi (Aberdovey).
From £75 a night, sleeps up to three, from March to October, nythrobin.co.uk
Club Jupiter, Kent
Billed as “Pontins meets Palm Springs”, this static caravan has been given a mid-century modernism makeover by three female friends: an interior designer, a stylist and a travel writer. There is a light-filled living room with a six-seater velvet sofa; a kitchen with a gold sink; a retro shower room and cloakroom toilet; and three opulent bedrooms – the Jungle room, the Lonely Hearts Saloon and the Space Disco room. The garden has an outdoor dining table and 70s rattan lounging chairs. The van is on the Birchington Vale holiday park, which has an indoor swimming pool, bar, restaurant and crazy golf, near Margate.
From £281 a night, sleeps six, clubjupiter.co.uk
The owners describe staying in cute, pastel-blue Tilly as like “comfortable camping” – there is no hot running water but there is a cosy bed, dining area and basic kitchen. The vintage van is parked in the owners’ sheltered, wooded driveway, and the hot shower and outdoor loo are on the decking near the house, 20 metres away. There is an outdoor cooking area, picnic table and stripy deckchairs. A bonus is the five-minute walk to Porthtowan beach, a surf school and the South West Coast Path; buses run to Newquay and St Ives in the summer. Tall people take note: tiny Tilly may not be the most comfortable option.
From £49 a night, seven night minimum stay, airbnb.co.uk
Towed Town Camping, Bristol
Towed Town is an indoor campsite in a repurposed warehouse close to Bristol city centre. There are six revamped vans to stay in, intended as more affordable alternatives to a hotel room. The vans range in era from the 1960s to the 90s, and all have double or king-size beds, kitchenettes and electric heaters, plus separate private bathrooms and (fake) grassy areas with seating. The communal area has a pool table and honesty bar; cereal, tea and coffee are provided; and bike rental is available. It is a 13- minute walk to Temple Meads station.
From £60 a night for two, booking.com
(Article source: The Guardian)