03/08/2021
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Motorhome layouts guide

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  Back to: Motorhome basics

Whatever size or price of motorhome you want, choosing the perfect layout for your motorhome is absolutely vital. Our guide will help you make the right choice…

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Introduction to motorhome layouts

Layout is the most important thing

The layout (otherwise called the floorplan) of any motorhome is probably the main reason why you’ll want to buy it, or not. It’s far more important than décor, or details like the upholstery, and much more crucial than any discount being offered, however tempting.

Don't rush the decision

The layout is also, perhaps, the easiest aspect to get wrong, especially if you’re buying your first motorhome. In these times of limited dealer stock and motorhomes selling quicker than freshly baked patisserie, it’s so easy to think you need to make a quick decision before you miss out.

Tread carefully

But tread carefully – those one-owner, ultra-low mileage motorhomes you see on dealer forecourts are usually there because someone chose the wrong layout. And, although motorhomes are known to retain a strong residual value, the biggest loss is always immediately after registering a brand-new van. You don’t want to be asking about part-exchange prices when your motorhome still has that new vehicle smell.


Motorhome bed layouts

1. Island bed layouts

So, you want a permanent double bed in your motorhome, but you can’t live with the access issues posed by a French bed or transverse double layout? This is the answer. Easily accessible from both sides.

Island bed layouts   

2. French bed layouts

French Bed Layouts

A French bed refers to a fixed double bed arranged lengthways against a side wall of the motorhome, either offside or nearside. The design is most commonly seen installed inside low-profile motorhomes.

French bed layouts   

3. Transverse bed layouts

Transverse Bed Layouts

A transverse bed layout is as much about the storage below the bed as the bed itself. Usually found in compact low-profile motorhomes, where they will often boast some of the most spacious garage storage.

Transverse bed layouts   

4. Single bed layouts

Transverse Bed Layouts

If you’re planning to tour in hot places then single beds might be more appealing than a double. Or you want flexibility for use of your motorhome by different family members or friends. If so, then this may be your answer.

Single bed layouts   

5. Bunk bed layouts

Bunk Bed Layouts

If you’re looking for a family motorhome, especially for travelling with younger kids, bunk bed layouts are streets ahead of any other layout. Offering private spaces in a compact yet comfortable format.

Bunk bed layouts   

Thinking of hiring a motorhome?

Want to find out more about hiring a motorhome first? Find out more in our motorhome and campervan hire ultimate guide.

Motorhome and campervan hire


Motorhome lounge layouts

1. Front lounge layouts

These layouts are without a fixed bed, so you’ll need to convert seats to beds at night, unless the main bed is a drop-down type. Drop-down beds have transformed this sector, proving extremely popular currently.

Front lounge layouts   

2. Rear lounge layouts

Rear lounge designs usually major on plenty of relaxation space and great views out through big windows on three sides. If you’re a former caravanner, this format may look appealingly familiar, providing great space.

Rear lounge layouts   

3. Twin lounge layouts

If you’ve been tempted by a rear lounge, but need more than two travel seats, here’s a solution. It’s been around for decades, so there’s plenty of choice. Ideal for families or you just want more room to sprawl.

Twin lounge layouts   


Things to consider about your motorhome layout

Question 1: Fixed bed or not fixed bed?

You can find fixed beds in a number of compact coachbuilts, some only 6m long. However, as you move into larger coachbuilts of 7.5m or more, it becomes harder to find layouts that don’t have a fixed bed, while, of course, in longer ’vans the bedroom feels less of a dominating feature. If you’re really not sure which way to go on this topic, why not hire a ’van first?

A possible compromise, if you’re unsure, is a drop-down bed. If this is the main bed, it won’t take up any space during the day, but it will still give you a proper bed with a flat, one-piece mattress at night. It still won’t feel like a separate bedroom, though, and you’ll usually lose your lounge with the bed down (except in an A-class).

Question 2: How much storage and living space do you want?

Fans of traditionally British layouts without a fixed bed will point to the extra living space on offer and extra space for entertaining friends and family, but a fixed bed also results in a large storage area beneath the mattress (right up to a full-sized garage for your bikes).

Always think about whether you need to get your cycles inside and where you’re going to keep other bulky gear, such as outdoor chairs, barbecue, etc. Some layouts without fixed beds still manage to offer a reasonable amount of external storage, but many fall down in this area. Remember, too, that bedding will usually live in situ with a fixed or drop-down bed, but will need storing separately in models where seats become beds at night.

Question 3: How many travel seats do you need?

There are pros and cons for any layout – there’s no such thing as the perfect ’van – so it’s important to decide what’s essential for you (as well as things you’d like, but might not be deal-breakers). Think carefully about how many travel seats you need and, where sofas convert into forward-facing passenger seats, see how easy that conversion process is.

Question 4: How many berths do you need?

As with seatbelts, so with the number of berths – you may plan on just being a twosome for most trips, but think about whether other family members might need to be accommodated from time to time. Unlike travel seats, though, there are alternatives here to increasing the tally in your ’van – an awning, tent, or Cabbunk system could be a better alternative than a different model of motorhome, especially if the additional beds are only going to be required on rare occasions.

Question 5: How big a vehicle do you want?

Think, too, about the size of vehicle you want – not just in terms of length but width, too. The latter can become important on country lanes, although there are some slimline coachbuilts that are not much broader than a campervan.

Typical coachbuilts are often 2.3m wide and 7m to 7.5m long. A smaller vehicle means less living space but also a ’van that’s easier to drive, less hassle to manoeuvre – and, perhaps, a better fit on your drive at home. Bigger motorhomes also weigh more, thus reducing the payload, unless you go for a heavier chassis (with implications for driving licences, as well as speed limits and tolls, especially on the Continent).


Expert motorhome advice to your door!

Why not subscribe to one of our fabulous magazines and get expert advice, travel ideas, technical help and all the latest news for your motorhome and your motorhome adventures!

MMM Motorhomers' Magazine

Want to know more about MMM magazine?

Every month MMM has articles written by motorhomers who have been there and done it, from great UK and European (and further afield) tours, campsite reviews, owners' reports and DIY projects among other things. MMM's tests, reviews and expert buying guides are not to be missed. MMM's technical advice is a must and includes everything from weekend jobs to longer-term DIY projects. And much more!

About MMM magazine  
What Motorhome Magazine

Want to know more about What Motorhome magazine?

Every issue of What Motorhome magazine provides essential buying advice for anyone looking to buy a new motorhome or campervan or upgrade their existing model. With a pedigree of over 30 years of offering the best motorhome and campervan buying advice, every issue of What Motorhome includes more new motorhome and campervan reviews than you will find in any other magazine.

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Campervan Magazine

Want to know more about Campervan magazine?

Campervan is the exciting monthly magazine that will give you all the inspiration you need to explore the world in your campervan. Every issue is packed with real-life campervanning experiences, inspiring travel ideas in the UK and further afield, the best campsites to stay on, campervan road tests and reviews of the latest models, and much more!

About Campervan magazine  

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