Just as we love the Barcelona for its size and twin-axle extra stability. But equally, yes, we love the single-axle Valencia, for its similarity with the Barcelona and for its lighter weight, making it suitable for a wider range of vehicles. Little wonder this is a big sales success.
With a lounge long enough to make single beds, the 2017 Alde-heated double-bed model of the Bailey Unicorn Valencia has family appeal – and it’s light in weight
The Unicorn Valencia is Bailey’s best-selling caravan, introduced in 2010 and topping the manufacturer’s sales charts for most of those six years.
So why is the Valencia such a runaway success? We had the latest model Valencia, the third generation, in our possession for two days to find out.
It wasn’t going to be an easy question to answer. At £21,585 it has a lot of competitors in its high-spec sector.
For example, Lunar’s Clubman SE, of a similar layout, is slightly more expensive at £23,499 but otherwise ideally comparable. And there is the Coachman VIP 560 in the same price-bracket, for another example. Each has their own characters and USPs, as has the Valencia…
And, at less than 1500kg, it’s light in weight for its high spec that includes Alde heating.
Interestingly, the Valencia’s side fixed bed layout was, up to very recent times, Britain’s most popular; until, that is, the island bed revolution began. Suddenly, in the last couple of years, the number of island-bed models has burgeoned. There are more than 24 transverse island bed, single axle caravans. Side beds have been swept aside amid this tide of layout fashion, leaving the Valencia with less competition.
It’s an interesting layout debate. While the march of the transverse bed continues to accelerate, there is no doubt the idea of a fixed bed that you don’t have to retract and expand for day and night mode still holds strong appeal. For one thing, the vast majority of transverse island bed caravans have a feature that’s calculated to light blue touch paper to the debate about whether it’s men or women who take more clothes on holiday; the wardrobes in this layout are of unequal sizes, in many cases, one is twice the size of the other.
The Valencia, though, has no such clothes-quantity contentious issues. This is one straightforward excellent layout, with no foibles, and a lot to like. And it has a big flexibility plus-point: its lounge is long enough to make into single beds.
Two towel hooks by the shower and two more on the door, an Alde panel radiator and plenty of space for towelling and dressing; the showering department acquits itself well. Floor space isn’t enormous, at just over a metre at the deepest point narrowing to 54cm in front of the shower, but it’s big enough. And the shower is fine, at 80x70cm and with a good-sized shelf for the shampoo necessities.
There’s plenty of lighting, and a nice touch: a circular mirror on an expanding mount, so that you can move it close to your face for make-up-type tasks.
We instantly felt very much at home in the Valencia; it’s a slightly shorter version of our long-term-test Bailey, a Unicorn Barcelona. The shower room is identical, and so is the bedroom, complete with a comfortable mattress. It’s made by Belfield Furnishings and calls itself ‘Honeycore”. The wardrobe, like the one in the Barcelona, is slightly wedge-shaped, and very capacious (no debates about how much space Mr or Mrs Chapman may occupy with their clothes here!). There’s 82cm of hanging width, plus three shelf areas for shoes and other stuff, and a small shelf for socks and the like. It’s a great wardrobe, as we can vouch for; our long-term-test Barcelona has to accommodate all manner of clothing quantities from time to time.
And we love the vanity recess aft of the wardrobe, with a shelf, a mirror and a mains socket for hairdrying and phone charging.
Anything we don’t like about the bedroom? Well, there is. And it’s personal taste. Our review Valencia, like the Barcelona, is upholstered in the optional scheme which involves some dark brown leatherette trim, and that includes the headboard. It’s a bit stark, and not as cosy-looking as the standard fabric upholstery.
A big plus-point about the Valencia (and also the Barcelona) is that the settees are 1.8m long, so make great single beds.
The wardrobe’s great. And so is the space under the bed, accessed easily and the bed rises a long way, so you can literally get inside the bed space if you need to. This is where side fixed beds score over retractable island beds, which usually have a base structure that impedes access to some extent. The Valencia’s bed space is one big, open cavern. There’s an exterior hatch, too, with a plastic tray in front of it, enabling you to put potentially wet or muddy items in here without interfering with other stored items.
Lower storage in the front sector is exceptionally good, too. On the offside there is a clear 1.24 length of space forward of the Alde heating unit. The top rises up on self-supporting hinges and there is a front hatch, too, although this only runs part of the length.
On the nearside, though, is where the Valencia – and the Barcelona – are star storage performers. The settees are long, so the under-space is long too. And with exterior access, plus a plastic tray like the one under the bed. And there’s more. Beside the door is a small hatch into this compartment, in the perfect place to put shoes as you step inside. The Valencia and the Barcelona are among only a handful of caravans in which you don’t have to endure footwear obstacles on the doormat!
The dining table lives against the bedroom wall, under the shelf; easy and quick to extract and replace.
For snack times, though, first impressions may have you wondering about the efficiency of the pull-out table, because it’s not at the same level as the windowsill. But our long-term use of the Barcelona with the identical feature has proved that the 3cm difference in surface levels is no problem. That’s because the windowsill is exceptionally deep, at 52cm. Add in the pull-out table, at 38cm deep and 70cm wide, and you have an ideal arrangement. Plates go on the pull-out section and dishes from which to serve go on the window sill; it works well.
Another area identical to the Barcelona, and with backrests that are slightly angled, for extra comfort; the Valencia’s long lounge (1.8m) is a delight, with two mains sockets and TV connections in one corner and plenty of space for a TV on the big windowsill. We’ve spent many happy work and play hours in the Barcelona’s identical lounge and we have nothing but praise for its comfort, size and ambience.
You may be wondering by this stage in the review where the Valencia differs from its longer twin-axled sister Barcelona. Well, it’s here in the central area. The Valencia has its tall, slim-line fridge-freezer opposite the kitchen, whereas in the Barcelona there’s a big dresser here. The kitchen is otherwise identical, with 1.2m of surface when you hinge up the 30cm extension (in the Barcelona we keep it up all the time). And the surface is exceptionally deep, curving to a maximum depth of 75cm. It creates a very efficient kitchen that’s well capable of adventurous meals.
Unicorns have the ATC electronic stability control system; that’s more appreciated on single-axle caravans than their inherently more stable four-wheeled cousins. Call us biased if you like but, after more than a year of towing the Barcelona, which has brilliant road manners, would we find its little sister a less enjoyable mate for our SsangYong Rexton? Well, actually, no. Barring the obvious twin-v-single axle comparisons; even on the gusty day of our tow test, the Valencia towed brilliantly – and you don’t need a beefy Rexton to cope easily with this one!
Bedding set to match upholstery at £209
Coachman VIP 560; Lunar Clubman SE, both with similar layout