There are some who like all the comforts of a five-star hotel. So why not have them – and still have the freedom to roam wherever you wish? Lavish living is perfectly possible with many top-of-the-range luxury motorhomes and caravans, providing the appearance of boutique apartments.
Luxury is fairly subjective: one person’s idea of indulgence can be at odds with that of another; the luxury category can, itself, be divided into entry-level, mid-market and high-end luxury. Visit a show dedicated to showcasing motorhomes and caravans, though, and it can be fairly obvious which are the ‘luxury’ vans – they tend to have a rope across the entrance barring general onlookers from doing little more than taking a sneaky peek through the door! You have to be invited in, and if you have to ask the price, well, it might not be the van for you!
On the other hand, there are plenty of manufacturers, such as Auto-Trail, Auto-Sleepers, Adria, Hymer, Dethleffs and Knaus, that make high quality motorhomes and/or touring caravans to provide more than comfortable living accommodation, especially when opting for their top-of-the-range ‘flagship’ models.
Then there are the manufacturers aiming all their products solely at the higher end of the marketplace, such as van conversion specialists IH Motorhomes and Vantage Motorhomes, motorhome manufacturers Carthago and Frankia, or caravan manufacturer Airstream, rather than providing budget-priced, mid-market and flagship ranges.
Perhaps, what most people associate with opulence, sumptuous comfort and the very pinnacle of luxury motorhomes are the manufacturers that specialise in giant ‘liners’, the large cruisers that don’t look out of place parked next to a sleek and slender superyacht or private jet, from manufacturers such as Niesmann+Bischoff, Concorde and Morelo. German manufacturers certainly have the monopoly on high-end luxury liners.
What to look out for
Most luxury motorhomes tend to be two-berth, aimed at couples rather than families, or four-berth with the intention of it being utilised as a two-berth most of the time. You will find the occasional six/seven berth motorhome, such as Bürstner’s ever-popular Argos A747-2G that has been in manufacture for years, while brands such as Itineo include family motorhomes at the ‘budget’ end of luxury.
Many utilise the fully integrated A-class style of van with huge panoramic windscreens, particularly the larger liners. An alternative popular style is the low-profile coachbuilt motorhome, providing aerodynamics for long-distance touring but offering all the comfort of larger A-Class vans. However, it’s perfectly possible to pick up a smaller van conversion that has been transformed to a high level of specification with top quality manufacture and furnishings. After all, if you want to park up conveniently in town, length of van is everything.
With the exception of the unique Airstream caravan, there are few touring caravan manufacturers that specialise solely in the luxury market. UK manufacturers tend to have a luxury range within their stable; look out for Bailey’s Alicanto Grande range, Coachman’s Laser range, the Elddis Crusader, and the Buccaneer, which includes the Aruba, a top-of-the-range six-berth family tourer.
A higher-grade spec
Luxurious living in a motorhome or touring caravan is not about making a bed up every night (though necessary in some smaller van conversions), or ‘making do’ with basic camping facilities. Much like opting for a budget chain motel or selecting the finest five-star spa, step into any van that’s aimed at the upper end of the market and you’ll generally feel the difference, an immediate sense of pampering (think monsoon shower heads in washrooms), the creation of an ambient mood and the chance to ‘fine dine’ with friends; for entertaining is very much an integral part of most layouts in this field. But, try to look beyond the cocktail cabinet complete with mood lighting. For much of the quality of a top-class van lies in features and a specification that you can’t necessarily see immediately.
First things first – with a motorhome, take a look at the base vehicle and the chassis. While the majority of motorhomes tend to use the Fiat Ducato or the Ford Iveco these days, several flagship models switch to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter; liners use the Mercedes-Benz Atego or Atrusco. Engine size will naturally be important for the larger vans to ensure it has enough oomph to drive without labouring but look out for additional features such as eight- or nine-speed gearboxes, automatic transmission, and higher spec air suspension.
There are often enhanced safety features too. A low-level Al-Ko chassis allows for a double floor, providing extra insulation and storage. Ask about the construction of the walls; higher spec vans often utilize different processes to create stronger and sturdier walls that still remain lightweight.
Touring caravans in the luxury category often utilise 8ft-wide bodies to allow for additional internal space, will be manufactured using much higher-specification materials, include state-of-the-art mod-cons, and likely to offer many extras, such as a motor-mover or self-levelling system, that you would otherwise be expected to pay for additionally when purchasing a lower-spec van.
Once inside any luxury motorhome or tourer, take a look at the construction of the furniture. You should see carpentry with immaculate joints and attention to finishing. Check out aspects such as kitchen worksurfaces and drawers, which should be sturdy and use soft-close mechanisms. Catches, hooks and handles should not be flimsy and will have more of a designer feel than mass-produced contract parts. Any luxury van will ooze individual craftsmanship while seating and soft furnishings will demonstrate flawless stitching utilising the finest upholstery fabrics and leather.
Bedroom or Boudoir?
Unique to you
Reaching the upper end of the luxury motorhomes market often allows for bespoke features and a greater list of options on engine size, furnishings or even changes to the layout. Companies that offer a bespoke service include Auto-Sleepers, Auto-Trail, IH Motorhomes, Niesmann+Bischoff and Concorde.
Does it work?
After all the glitz, the gloss, shiny lights and glamour has swayed your decision, check for functionality. It is still a leisure vehicle after all. So aspects such as the ease to fill up with fresh water, dispose of waste water, a safe entrance and storage should all be considered. Likewise, what a motorhome is like to drive, or the stability of the caravan being towed; higher-spec caravans tend to have additional safety features for better towing.
Touring Magazine’s pick of luxury motorhomes and caravans:
Luxury Van Conversions
V-Line 636SE Sport
In place of the usual barn doors so often utilised at the rear of van conversions, V-Line’s Sport models offer a GRP-moulded rear panel with a gas-strut boot area. Not only does this make the appearance smarter but the boot space is very user-friendly.
Internally Sport models incorporate a rear U-shaped lounge with central pedestal table. It creates a really comfortable and cosy lounging area. Elsewhere, there’s a very design-orientated kitchen with upmarket work surfacing and, externally, you get external shower and barbecue points.
Vantage offers 12 premium models, 10 of which are two-berth. However, opt for the RIO or SKY, both with four travelling seats, a U-shaped rear lounge and three or five sleeping berths respectively.
For additional luxury opt for their anniversary Diamond Edition which carries special graphics and comes with colour coded front and rear bumpers, alloy wheels and a black grill. It has colour painted side mouldings, high gloss internal doors, full leather upholstery, additional habitation reading lights and a turbovent in the bathroom.
IH Motorhomes 680CFL
This 2-berth model is based on a 6.8m-long VW Crafter, with a domestic-style sofa in the front lounge, opposite the habitation entrance door.
Floor space in the lounge is copious for a van conversion, while there’s a rear washroom that utilises the full width of the van. IH Motorhomes’ internal craftsmanship is second to none.
Luxury Low Profile Vans
Adria Coral Supreme 670 DC
Adria’s Coral has been around for years but the model, with five layouts – all three-berth including two limited editions exclusively for the UK – have been completely updated.
This luxury motorhome has been designed around its panoramic sky-roof beneath which is an atrium-style sky lounge. Our pick is the 670 DC for comfort and practicality.
Adria also manufacture an A-Class motorhome, the Sonic Supreme, an even more luxurious premium van than the Coral.
Auto-Sleepers Corinium FB
This is a lovely coachbuilt luxury motorhome with two travelling seats but four-berths; ideal if you’ll have occasional guests to stay. At the rear of the van is a full-sized en-suite bedroom with large washroom across the rear.
The whole area is separated from the living area, which offers two parallel sofas, and the galley kitchen by a domestic-style door. The living area at the front offers two parallel sofas.
Auto-Trail Frontier Delaware
One of the Frontier range of luxury flagship models, the Delaware has a permanent island double bed, separate shower compartment and, good-sized front lounge.
Based on a Fiat Ducato with new Euro 6D engine, it has a six-speed gearbox with ‘Comfortmatic’ automatic option. There’s a choice of lo-line or hi-line version (which includes an overcab bed).
Hymer B-Class MasterLine T780
This is Hymer’s coachbuilt motorhome based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with their own SLC double-floor chassis. There are exclusive design features you’d otherwise find in an A-Class, such as premium interior furnishings and a luxurious feeling of space in the living areas.
There’s plenty of storage space, too, with a 450kg payload for the rear garage, which can be accessed internally and externally.
A-Class and Liners
SC700 from £60,500
Itineo can best be described as a manufacturer of entry-level luxury motorhomes; the brand, which is a part of the French-owned Rapido Group, specialises in producing A-Class motorhomes and, for 2021, has a choice of 10 layouts in three lengths, including the Nomad at just 6.55m long. Itineo vans are popular with families looking for a little class as they are not all exclusively two-berth; the new five-berth SC700, for example, has a rear bedroom with bunk beds, yet is less than 7 metres long.
Another to look out for is the new Traveller MC740, with rear island double bed. Opt for the SPIRIT EDITION for enhanced style and features.
malibu Generation M
The malibu brand has really come of age. What was once a ‘budget’ brand of Carthago, is now more superior than its original concept, stylish and most definitely one to take a look at.
We love the new ‘Generation M’ series; it looks modern and sophisticated both internally and externally, and represents excellent quality in the mid-market area of luxury motorhomes. There are eight A-Class and seven low-profile coachbuilts to select from and all are less than 7.5m in length.
The Elegance, which was completely revised and updated for last year’s season, is the German manufacturer’s flagship A-Class luxury motorhome and, as its name suggests, there’s a touch of style to it. Based upon a Mercedes with a heated double-floor chassis, there are two layouts available, with twin single beds or a double bed, coupled with a drop-down bed above the cab.
It might not be the most luxurious element to mention but the Elegance also incorporates Thetford’s new INDUSTM toilet system, which filters grey waste water from the shower, treats it with sanitary additives before using it for toilet flushing, a useful feature when saving limited water resources.
Rapido Distinction i1090 Ultimate Line
French manufacturer Rapido specialises in upmarket coachbuilt and A-Class motorhomes and has many models and layouts. It’s fair to say that their model names, categorised by a series of letters and numbers, can be quite confusing and takes a little getting used to understand.
Launched in 2015, the A-Class Distinction now has 7 layouts; the largest is the i1090, with rear en-suite bedroom incorporating an extra-wide double bed above a large garage though, overall, the van sleeps five.
The Distinction is based upon a Fiat Ducato with Al-Ko chassis. For a Mercedes-Benz with double-floor Al-Ko Chassis, opt for the M Series, into which a smart, new curved kitchen has been introduced for the 2021 season.
Knaus Sun I 900
So, we’re moving into a different league altogether now – Knaus’s brand new Sun I 900 luxury liner, launched for the 2021 season, includes a spa bath as well as a shower!
It’s the only luxury motorhome we’ve come across with one. There’s a choice of two single beds (the LEG) or an island bed (the LX) at the rear, plus a cocoon-like drop-down bed over the spacious front lounge.
Carthago Liner for Two
Price from £142,000
Carthago specialize in luxury motorhomes and the Liner for Two is the very pinnacle of their extensive list of A-Class vans on offer. It’s available on both a Fiat Ducato or Iveco Daily chassis, offering different weight permutations and a double floor.
Internally, it’s the living area where this couple’s van excels, with the wrap-around seating at the rear ready to wallow in while the bedroom, washroom and kitchen offer masses of chic design features – all within 7.83m or 8.5m length, depending on the size of rear garage you require.
Niesmann+Bischoff Arto and Flair
Price dependent on model
Niesmann+Bischoff concentrate their notable talents at creating luxury motorhomes on just three ranges, the Smove, the Flair and the Arto, the latter two being superior A-Class motorhomes. The difference between them? The Arto is based on a Fiat Ducato with Al-Ko chassis and is front-wheel drive while the Flair is based on an Iveco Daily, is rear-wheel drive and has a greater maximum permitted total weight.
There’s a whopping 18 layouts to select from with the Arto, and 8 layouts in the Flair. Between them, they offer a choice of twin single beds, island beds and, in the Arto, a transverse double bed. All exude a luscious quality.
Concorde Credo (and beyond)
With Concorde specialising in the manufacture of luxury liners, the Credo is actually classed as ‘entry-level’ luxury! There are four 2-berth layouts but each one includes a separate bedroom, There’s soft-walk flooring throughout, without steps, for comfort and spacious living accommodation. The kitchens are outstanding. New for 2021 is the special Credo ‘Red Edition’, with coloured exterior design, eye-catching privacy black glazing and a special bi-colour leather interior.
At the other end of Concorde’s spectrum is its Liner (pictured), the ‘Diamond Series’ special edition. It offers even greater exterior and interior design with exclusive leather upholstery, including around the exquisite bed base; the bedroom is in a league of its own.
Concorde motorhomes are sold in the UK exclusively by Southdowns Motorhome Centre.
MORELO Grand Empire
MORELO also specialise in luxury motorhomes of outstanding quality and specification only. Therefore the company has a range that begins with the ‘entry-level’ (relatively) HOME, followed by the LOFT, through to the PALACE LINER and EMPIRE. These vary in scale with rear garages that can fit anything from a couple of e-bikes to a Mini Cooper or Porsche.
In 2021, MORELO went one step beyond to introduce its new flagship model, the GRAND EMPIRE, the largest and most luxurious model that MORELO has built to date to reflect customers’ increasing requirements for space, comfort, performance, safety and design.
Features of the model include a rear garage for a Mini Cooper and a slide-out side wall for the living room, which includes ergonomic lounge chairs that can be adjusted individually at the push of a button, and a kitchen with domestic quality appliances.
Adria Adora and Alpina
Price from £23,995 (Adora) and £34,495 (Alpina)
Slovenian-based Adria has the largest presence in the UK of all continental caravan manufacturers. The Adora, its best-selling caravan range, has been completely redesigned and upgraded for 2021, to improve comfort, practicality, technology and performance.
There’s an all-new exterior shape to aid towing, with a huge panoramic window at the front for great views. Inside you’ll find elegance coupled with spacious seating areas and technology to control major heating and water functions remotely.
Adria also produces a caravan with an even higher premium spec for all-year-round use, the Alpina, of which there are two four-berth layouts. We love the Mississippi, which has a luxuriously comfortable and spacious wraparound lounge at the front and an en-suite bedroom at the rear with transverse double bed.
Bailey Alicanto Grande Porto
The Alicanto Grande range is Bailey’s flagship caravan, an 8ft-wide tourer that offers luxurious comfort yet remains lightweight for towing. There are sprung seat cushions and curved corner backrests, larger beds than many caravans with memory foam topped mattresses and numerous features offering the best quality available.
There are four 4-berth layouts; our pick is the Porto, a twin-axle tourer with an en-suite rear island-bed bedroom that’s closed off from the living area; the spacious full-width washroom sits in the middle of the van, making an excellent boutique changing room.
Price from £31,265
Washrooms have the appearance of high-end boutique bathrooms with chrome fittings and fully-lined shower cubicles, while the kitchens offer plenty of top-level spec.
Eriba Nova 590
Price from €36,990
The Nova 590 is new for 2021, a 4-berth tourer with rear en-suite bedroom incorporating a transverse double bed while the front wrap-around lounge is incredibly spacious. Two levels of design spec are available; the Trend and higher Ambience.
Price from £78,495
We round up with, arguably, the most globally recognised brand of caravan ever made – the ‘trailer’ that everyone dreams of owning. The iconic metal-riveted Airstream caravan remains the pinnacle of long-held dreams of outdoor living and style.
All three models offer a fixed double bed and large, sumptuous seating area. The Yukon is two/three-berth, but opt for the four-berth Colorado for the greatest amount of space. The Missouri is also a four-berth unit but, at 6.81m long, is 1.5m shorter than the Colorado.
Lowdhams, with bases in Nottingham and Huddersfield, are the sole official UK dealer for Airstreamfrom7794l