03/08/2021
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Motorhome island bed layout

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  Motorhome layouts guide

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.

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The island bed layout

Island Bed Layout top tips

Why an island bed?

So, you want a permanent double bed, but you can’t live with the access issues posed by a French bed or transverse double? This is the answer. An island bed is like your double at home, with access to the mattress on either side. It can be found in coachbuilts of all types. Typical overall lengths are around 7.5m but more compact designs (down to 6.5m and, increasingly, around 7m) do exist. French brands especially favour island bed layouts (whereas German makers tend to focus more on single bed floorplans).

Lots of choice

At the front, you can choose between half-dinette lounges and side settees. The latter are increasingly common, with most continental manufacturers now offering settees that can be converted into a pair of forward-facing travel seats – some doing this transformation rather better than others! UK layouts with side settees don’t usually adapt, so offer no rear travel seats (except in Bailey’s new Adamo).

Great storage

As with all fixed bed layouts, underbed storage is a key feature. This can be a bike-swallowing garage if the bed is set high enough. A number of models have bed raising/lowering mechanisms (manual or electric) to change the locker-size-to-bed-height ratio, but remember that you’ll almost certainly want to move your bikes outside and lower the bed to a more comfortable height for your kip.

Check access space

The size of the bed and the access around it are two issues that need checking – brochure figures cannot always be trusted. Beds can be short and/or with a radiused foot, while space for undressing can be lacking, too. Some have a mechanism that sees the head of the bed rise as the mattress moves back – thus creating more space for getting dressed, while making sitting up in bed easy and comfortable. But, if this is the case, do look carefully at how much room there is around the foot of the bed when it’s fully extended for sleeping.

Island Bed Layout Variations

Bathroom variations

The best island bed floorplans feature an en suite washroom with the shower on one side and the toilet/washroom on the other, with a door that closes across the aisle to create a generous full-width en suite. Here, again, it’s space that separates the good from the not so good. Also, look for a second door that gives privacy between the bedroom and the bathroom, especially if you’re intending to use your motorhome as a four-berth.

Much more unusual is a central washbasin design, where the basin is mounted on the reverse side of a wall at the foot of the bed. This wall is perfect for mounting a bedroom TV, but now bed length is even more important as your feet can’t overhang. Also, shutting off the toilet and/or shower for privacy can be more convoluted with this design.

There are also layouts with island beds running across the vehicle (mainly from UK manufacturers), though bathroom facilities are then rarely as good. Itineo has come up with one of the best transverse island bed designs yet seen, which also incorporates a large garage beyond the bedroom.

Space-saving compromises

And another variation is the semi-island or offset island bed, where there is more limited access to one side of the bed – this is a space-saving compromise between a true island bed and a French bed.

Finally, if you don’t want your bed taking up this much room, you could go for Bürstner’s drop-down island bed, where the bed’s space is replaced by a sofa in the daytime.


Our top tip

Always try the bed for size, with both of you lying on it. Widths and lengths vary and a very curved foot to the mattress can reduce the usable size of the bed, too. Remember that a thick duvet overhanging the mattress will reduce space to move around the bed.

Island Bed Layouts


Our top choices

French manufacturers tend to offer more island bed options than any other. Rapido offers the compact C86 with a slimline body and the offset island bed 656F (at only 6.79m long) right up to the Distinction i1090 A-class at 8.79m.

King of the compacts, though, must be Pilote’s P650C which is now available as an Évidence model with impressive spec – and is still only 6.49m long. For great value and a choice of spec/price levels, as well as two overall lengths, also look at Chausson – its models have height-adjustable beds, too.


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