The Ultimate Guide to Caravan Layouts
Words by Will Hawkins
The layout, or floor plan, of your caravan is all-important if it's to be a comfortable and convenient home away from home. Yet, deciding which caravan layout is best for you can feel daunting at first. Knowing which layout is going to suit you means you need to understand what is available.
In our Ultimate Guide to Caravan Layouts, find out which layout is best for you before you take the plunge and buy your dream caravan.
Use this index to find a specific layout:
Fixed-bed, four-berth caravans
Bed aligned along the caravan
Bed aligned across the caravan
Bed at the rear of the caravan
Twin-bed caravan layout
Caravans with mid-washrooms
Caravans with a side dining area
Five berth caravan layouts
Bunk beds in a rear corner
Single axle six-berths
Free Caravan Layout Guide
What Is MTPLM?
You'll need to know what MTPLM means when you choose a caravan.
MTPLM means Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass.
It's the figure you need for matching your car and caravan. Your car's kerb weight must be greater than the MTPLM figure of the caravan. Standard advice is your caravan's MTPLM should be no more than 85% of the car's kerb weight.
Find which caravans you can tow using our free Towmatch service here!
Berths and layouts
Caravans broadly fall into two categories: those designed primarily for couples and others built for families. But before you rush off and consider the first two-berth you see, or fixate on one with bunk beds, read on, because there are many caravan layouts which, although designed to sleep four, are also ideal for two. Layout choice is about how you would like to use the caravan.
Want to know more about the different types of caravan layouts? You’ll find everything you need to know about choosing a caravan layout in the brand new 2021 edition of Buying Your First Caravan – out now and available to buy for just £4.99.
So how do you choose?
If there are only two of you and you never intend to invite other family members to join you, a two-berth caravan can be ideal.
Most two-berth caravans fall into two categories: those with rear kitchens and those with shower rooms across the whole width of the caravan at the rear, and with the cooking on the offside.
Longer two-berths in both categories offer the option of using the settees as single beds or making up a double bed across the width of the van. Which layout appeals to you, depends. Do you like more space? Or, do you want a caravan which is as short as possible?
Caravan Options for Couples
Xplore 422 — £13,699 plus £595 delivery. MTPLM 1043 kg
Lunar Ariva — £17,199 plus £525 delivery. MTPLM 950 kg
Bailey Phoenix 420 — £16,999 plus £565 delivery. MTPLM 1139 kg
Sprite Alpine 2 — £15,980 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1208 kg
Caravelair Antarès 335 — £14,495 including delivery. MTPLM 1000 kg
Compact, lightweight, island-bed
Sprite Alpine 4 — £16,145 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1284 kg
Xplore 554 — £17,294 plus £595 delivery. MTPLM 1325 kg
Venus 540/4 — £17,699 plus £525 delivery. MTPLM 1305 kg
Bailey Phoenix 440 — £17,999 plus £565 delivery. MTPLM 1316 kg
Mid-range, island bed
Bailey Pegasus Grande Brindisi — £22,999 plus £565 delivery. MTPLM 1490 kg
Swift Challenger 560 — £22,175 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1529 kg
Elddis Avanté 550 — £19,749 plus £595 delivery. MTPLM 1412 kg
Coachman Vision 545 — £21,040 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1510 kg
These are caravans with permanent double beds. They're four-berths, sleeping two in the lounge when required. The layout is ideal for couples who sometimes have guests. They're also ideal if you don't want to construct a double bed from the lounge. Your bed is waiting for you, just like at home!
Fixed-bed four-berths come in various lengths, weights and prices. The following paragraphs list the three common configurations.
Caravan Options Fixed-bed 4-berth
Luxury, single-axle, fixed-bed
Coachman VIP 545 — £26,695 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1630 kg
Swift Eccles 580 — £23,225 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1523 kg
Elddis Affinity 550 — £22,499 plus £595 delivery. MTPLM 1463 kg
Adria Adora Isonzo — £23,575 including delivery. MTPLM 1750 kg
This caravan layout style has the shower room either across the rear or in the offside corner, alongside the bed. The bed is shaped to allow for space in the corridor alongside it, with a corner section cut off.
Some have a greater cut-off section than others. It's a point to consider concerning your height and, therefore, how long you need the bed to be. Taller caravanners need longer beds.
These are known as transverse island-bed caravans. Most have the shower room at the rear, across the whole width of the caravan.
The bedhead is on the nearside, with a corridor at the foot of the bed, leading to the shower room. The beds in these caravans have no cut-off section. They are slightly rounded at the corners.
The bed in this layout is called an island bed, meaning that you can walk around three sides of it. These beds have curved ends, which take a little length off at the corners. They're preferred if you're both tall.
These layouts have separate shower and toilet rooms, on opposing sides of the corridor forward of the bed.
This layout enables you to divide the bedroom and washing facilities from the rest of the caravan. The caravans have a wooden door, rather than a pleated, fabric partition. It's the perfect layout if you want to keep your bedroom closed off from the living area.
There are twin-bed caravans to suit many budgets, weight limits and tastes.
Twin-bed caravans are tailor-made for two people who don't mind sleeping separately. Each gets a permanent bed, with a corridor in between, leading to the shower room at the rear. All these caravans enable you to make a double bed in the front end. That makes them ideal if you sometimes have other family members with you.
But this caravan layout isn't just for couples. It can be perfect for a family of four. The offspring get the single beds, and the parents make their double in the lounge. It's an example of a layout that crosses the divide between couples and families effectively. And there are others which offer different family flexibility.
Since 2016, the mid-washroom caravan has been proving popular. This type of caravan layout creates a bold en-suite effect and gives excellent separation of the bedroom and living area.
It will suit many couples and if you have children who use the front sofas as singles or make-up double. It's a stylish layout, but shower cubicles can be small, and the rear bed length may also suffer.
At just £15,585, the Sprite Major 4 EB is the lowest-priced, rear island bed caravan on the market.
These caravans, typically four-berths, have the shower room at the rear, the kitchen on the nearside and a dining area for two on the offside, which you can convert into bunks. It's a layout that has become a rarity among new ranges but there is plenty of choice on the used market.
For couples, these layouts give you a permanent dining area. That means you can leave the bed made up in the lounge if you wish.
For families, converting the side-dining area to bunks is ideal for young children. All children love bunk beds. They're rather fun, which makes the caravanning night-time experience different from that at home.
The base of the top bunk folds down flat against the wall. It rises on metal-hinged struts to sit above the diner seats, which make the lower bed.
The lower bunk's central area, bridging the gap between the seats, is made up of slide-out wooden slats, or sometimes the table, which clips to the wall; you remove or fold the leg and rest the table on ledges on the edges of the seating units.
One point to consider is the ages, and, therefore, weights, of the children. The mattresses of the bunks fall into two categories. In some caravans with this layout, the side dining area upholstery is in two sections which fold out to make a mattress of half the depth of the seating. This arrangement is excellent for small children but less comfortable as the kids grow.
Others use the full depth of the seating for the lower bunk, constructing the mattress using the seat backs. There's a separate mattress, in linked, folded sections provided, for the upper bunk.
The advantage is both mattresses are deeper. The disadvantage is you have to store the top mattress, typically, under the front settees or in the wardrobe.
You may assume that the bigger the family, the larger the caravan you need. But that's not necessarily true. There are some innovative layouts on offer which enable you to sleep five people in a caravan of a modest length and weight.
Family layouts aren't just about how many children you have. Your choice may be influenced by the occasional need to accommodate a friend of your children or a cousin.
That makes five and six-berths ideal for families of four. These caravans offer flexibility.
There are broadly two categories of layout offering family accommodation: those with bunk beds, and those with two lounges, front and rear, both of which make into bed areas.
Perhaps this is the type of caravan layout that offers the highest number of variations. Some have bunks aligned on the offside, some on the nearside. Others have secluded bunk areas, obscured from lounge view by furniture.
A number have bunk beds in a dedicated 'kids area' at the rear, with a dining table and a door to shut it off. For many families, this is the perfect arrangement because the children get their bedroom and their daytime environment, too. They can watch their television, play, dine and have their own space.
Some caravans of this layout have a solid door to close off this area, forming a far more effective barrier to light and sound than a pleated fabric partition.
The parents get the advantage of their own space after the kids have gone to bed. For many families, this layout is considered the nearest thing to home-from-home practicality regarding space for everyone.
Bunk beds don't have to be in a separate room to offer cosy practicality. Some layouts give you bunks on the offside or nearside but without the family dining table alongside it.
Some will find that they get a greater feeling of space with these layouts. They tend to be more open-plan than those with a room you can divide off at the rear.
That's because the layouts with rear bedroom/lounge areas all have shower rooms centrally located on the offside, creating a natural barrier in the middle of the van.
Caravan Options for Bunk Beds
Lightweight family caravans (under 1500 kg)
Caravelair Antarès 496 — 6-berth, £17,995 including delivery. MTPLM 1400 kg
Adria Altea Severn — 6-berth, £17,480 including delivery. MTPLM 1450 kg
Xplore 586 — 6-berth, £16,999 plus £595 delivery. MTPLM 1370 kg
Sprite Major 6 — 6-berth, £18,390 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1468 kg
Mid-weight family caravans
Swift Challenger 590 — 6-berth, £22,175 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1600 kg
Coachman VIP 570 — 5-berth, £26,695 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1665 kg
Twin-axle family caravans
Adria Adora Sava — 5-berth, £23,975 including delivery. MTPLM 1900 kg
Coachman Vision 630 — 5-berth, £22,940 plus £545 delivery. MTPLM 1677 kg
Elddis Avanté 866 — 6-berth, £23,299 plus £595 delivery. MTPLM 1734 kg
Bailey Pegasus Grande Palermo — 6-berth £24,499 plus £565 delivery. MTPLM 1692 kg
Lounge-dining areas at both ends of the caravan, with the shower room in the centre, on the offside, and the kitchen opposite. From that description, you might assume this layout means a big caravan.
But that's not always the case. There are shorter and longer variants of this theme. All can make beds at both ends, with a double bed across the caravan width at the rear. And in most cases, there is a bunk that you can raise above it across the rear wall.
In some more significant examples, the front seating is long enough to make single beds as an alternative to a double.
There are several significant plus-points about this layout, and all of them involve flexibility. If there are five people on board, bed arrangements are straightforward. If there are four, you don't need to raise the bunk. But you might want to, as it gives you a place to put stuff at night.
Importantly, you have choices about who sleeps where. Parents can take the double bed at the rear, with, perhaps, the youngest child on the bunk, and two children can have the single beds in the front.
Or parents could use the front double bed and the kids can make the rear area into a space of their own.
Even more importantly, you can keep the rear end as a permanent bedroom, so in the morning and evening, you only have to do the bed conversion task in one area of the caravan, the lounge.
Accommodating six in a caravan is undoubtedly a design challenge for caravan manufacturers. It leads to some clever configurations, mostly involving fixed bunk beds and two more that you can make in a side dining area.
All these are on single axles, so aren't exceptionally long. One example of an excellent option for six is the Slovenian-made Adria Adora Rhine, priced at £18,835.
The Adora Rhine caravan has a rear double bed and a dining area that converts to bunks.
The advantage of a longer, twin-axle caravan, in layout terms, there is more space for six people. It's a prominent factor in your choice, and one to consider, especially if you intend to use the caravan on a year-round basis. When daylight hours are shorter and cold weather makes spending time outdoors less appealing, a big, warm caravan can be a boon.
Twin-axle six-berths come in various layouts.
Sprite, the long-established brand that has built its reputation on providing lightweight, affordable family caravans, offers four six-berth options, two of which are on twin axles.
These are the Quattro FB and Quattro EW. Both have double beds. The EW has an L-shaped lounge which makes into a double bed, an offside dining area creating two bunks and a bed in the nearside rear corner.
The Venus range of caravans, made by Lunar, has a twin-axle six-berth for £16,899. It has a fixed double bed, a dining area that you can convert into bunks and a corner shower-toilet room.
Elddis also provides a cleverly-designed six-berth, in the Crusader Tempest EB (£26,794; MTPLM 1789 kg). The EB has bunks plus a side dining area comfortably wide enough for four that you can make into a double bed.
Experience the TARDIS-like space of eight-feet wide!
Q: Do any British caravan manufacturers make those super-sized, eight-feet-wide touring caravans?
Not long ago, there were hardly any eight-feet-wide touring caravans available in Britain, but, now, they're in most manufacturers' ranges. These include:
- Swift's popular Sprite Super and Elegance Grande ranges
- Compass' three vans in its Casita range
- Elddis also has three in the Avanté range
- All Buccaneers are eight-feet wide
- Adria has five eight-footers
- Lunar has one, too
- All three Alarias are eight-feet wide
- Bailey's new Pegasus Grande range is eight-feet wide
Frequently Asked Questions about caravan layouts
We answer frequently asked questions from our readers about deciding between caravan layouts.
Q. There are hundreds of caravan layout combinations. How do I know what is best for me?
A. There are many popular layouts, which have proven to be big sellers. All the big manufacturers tend to produce these.
Occasionally, a caravan maker will come up with a new and innovative layout, which captures the public's imagination. If it proves successful, the other makers will create their versions.
Rear island-bed bedrooms with mid-washroom set-up is a recent example of this.
Q. Is the caravan layout that important, as long as we have enough beds?
A. Get the wrong layout, and you'll soon discover issues that begin to mar your caravanning enjoyment. It may be too little storage for all your family's stuff, insufficient privacy or a washroom that doesn't work when you have to bathe small children. Take the time to pick the right layout for your caravanning needs and the whole experience will be much better.
Q. Okay, what do I need to know about the different caravan layouts?
A. Whatever your budget, there are two main factors to consider first when choosing a caravan. Firstly, how many people will be sleeping in the caravan? The other is the weight of your car. Knowing these factors will help you find the right caravan size for you.
Visit our Review section to find caravans which interest you.
Caravan delivery Fee
All caravan prices involve a delivery fee. That's the cost of transporting the caravan to the dealer. Most manufacturers list caravan prices exclusive of delivery charge. Some list them including the fee. Delivery fees usually range between £525 to £595.
Now that you've learnt about caravan layouts, visit our caravans for sale section to find a model you like.