The Island vs The Make Up

With so many choices on offer we look into what makes the perfect bed
With so many choices on offer we look into what makes the perfect bed

Tuesday, 09, Oct 2018 11:30

By William Coleman

The world of the leisure vehicle is a diverse one, to say the very least. You can pick a motorhome, caravan, trailer tent, van conversion or something a bit more customer built like a converted fire truck, yes that exists, and be on holiday at the drop of a hat. What ever your vehicle of choice there is one thing that has people split right down the middle- The island bed or the make up?

Without a doubt both of these bed types have a very long list of pros and cons and if anything there is no real answer, it's all down to your own personal preference. Each caravan layout will appeal to someone for their specific needs.

Take for example a couple who go away a lot, they may favour the island bed as it does not compromise the living space. Where as if you give that same van to a family of 4 then it means that once the children are put to bed, presumably in the living area, you are pretty much confined to the island bed or awning, provided you can sneak past the kids without waking them up.

The Make Up Bed

So the make up bed is the most common type of bed, it dominates the market. So then this must be the winner, right? If its more common does than mean its better? I would say "no". Just because there is more does not make it a better.

The space provided by having a make up bed is great and really does free up the rest of the van. You can have a larger living space as well as bigger washing areas, bathrooms, kitchens etc.

Once the make up bed is made you do have a much larger sleeping area. So if you are looking for the biggest bed possible look no further than a make up bed. It is perfect for both couples and families alike.

One drawback of the make up bed is in the title, you have to make the bed up of an evening then put it away in the morning. After a long drive and then setting up the caravan, awning, tables chair and everything else the last thing you want to do it make a bed.

Is the making of the bed that much of a chore though? Not really, not now days anyway. You can have the frame out in a few seconds and you're halfway there. The only part that I find a nuisance is arranging the cushions into the right formation. For those who are good at Tetris can figure this out pretty quickly, but for the newcomer it can take a little getting used to. Which leads me to my next point, which is a negative one.

I am a very light sleeper and I have a few musts for when I am sleeping, I promise I'm not a primadonna. Once the cushions are laid out I really do not like the gaps and grooves that occur with a make up bed. When I roll around an elbow or a knee can slip into the dip and I find it really uncomfortable.

Before bed it can be an issue too, trying to roll off of the bed save falling between the gaps. The way round this would be to buy a mattress topper, like I did, but this does then bring on an extra level of expense. I did buy a cheaper one but found it made little to no different so I ended up sinking £100 into a memory foam one.

Also there is the matter of keeping it clean, like any bed for that matter. Part of holiday is relaxing and having a lay in so why not have breakfast in bed once in a while. So not only are you using the cushions for sleeping and sitting on you are also using the same padding during the day which provides a lot of room for spillage.

Fixed singles are great though. On my 3 week tour with Bailey of Bristol I never slept so soundly on anything other than the fixed single bed. The small comfortable singles were an absolute delight and I enjoyed my nights sleep on the single over the make up. Having the 2 singles also helps families with children. Once the children are in bed you can have free roam of pretty much the entire caravan without waking up the babies.

If you have a smaller van for that quick get away then the 2 berth make up bed is absolutely perfect, especially if it is your first van.

The Island Bed

Option 2 of the caravan bed world comes in various shapes and sizes, some even require some assembly before you can hop on too.

Remove the need for a full assembly and do you really get a better bed and holiday experience? Some would argue it is the way forward and than the make up bed will be made obsolete by the fixed island bed.

Now once you have made your choice on the island bed you then move on to choice number 2, which may be even harder than the first. Transverse, rear bed or French bed (corner bed)? All 3 options present a unique experience and dramatically change the layout of a van.

So as this is more of an "opinion" piece I will address my least favourite of the 3 possible options. The French corner bed is not one I am keen on at all. It is like having the wall side of the bed at home. What do you do if nature calls during the evening? Climb over the other half and risk waking them up, that's what. This, and this alone, would put me off of having a corner bed.

Now onto the 2 island bed options than seem to be becoming increasingly popular. With the layout designs that you get with these it's easy to see why they are gaining so much momentum, especially in the 8ft wide models.

Right off the bat I am going to highlight some negatives that come with the island bed, because I am mostly positive on this topic.

Transverse 4 berth models with a rear bathroom! I just do not see the value in blocking the bathroom off after dark. Yes most sites have onsite restrooms and shower blocks but at night who wants to venture to those.

Most families buy 4 berth caravans. With having a rear bathroom your bedroom becomes a walkway to the toilet. Not my idea of a fantastic lay out. On the flip side of that is this 4 berth layout being used by just 2 people. Here comes a positive.

If you living area is the opposite end to the bathroom is does add that desired level of privacy when using the bathroom/washroom. So if 2 of you are using this layout then it works very well.

If you have an a rear island bed then you get the bathroom in the middle of the van which does separate day and night living very well. You simply close both sides of the bathroom and you have total isolation from the living area. Great for having guests over if you choose to put the kids to sleep on the island bed.

Some vans have a folding door that does not provide much in the way of separation where has others have a solid wood sliding doors which does a lot more to separate things.

More often than not when we go away and meet friends onsite there tends to be a few late nights, not always with wine but some of the time. So after a belly full of BBQ food and some drinks it is nice to be able to just fall onto the bed and not worry about making it.

I am an early riser, no matter what time I go to sleep the previous evening. In the past my early rising has not gone down very well, especially with a make up bed. As soon as I wake up that's it I have to get moving. Using an island bed means you can go to the living area and relax in there while others sleep well into the morning. Everyone's a winner in that scenario.

Another clear advantage of the is having enough space on either side of the bed. You can simply wake up and move freely without having to climb over anyone. The bedside tables/cabinets that come with them are good too. Somewhere for me to place my phone and glasses of an evening. Very handy indeed.

Twin axle vans with island bed is my personal van of choice, with a middle bathroom. This works for a couple, family or sharing with friends. You get the sleeping space you need seperate from day living as well as lots or practical space. For me it is a win win.

What about the rest of the CaravanTimes team. What is there layout of choice?

Tom- Due to the amount of driving I do and working out of the van I enjoy a motorhome with an electric drop down bed. I know that is a bit of a curve ball but for work purposes it suits me down to the ground. But with a towing van I do like a make up bed. They are bigger and you get a lot more space throughout the van.

James- I really like an island bed. I lay in whenever possible when I am away so having a nice bed that is just like the one at home just makes me sleep a lot better. Once the blinds are pulled and all the doors are shut it feels just like home.

Daniel- Make up bed with two fixed singles at the rear. With 2 small children it means when we are away bedtime stays bed time. We put them in their beds and then we use the lounge for relaxing, watching a film and then within 20 seconds the large double bed is ready, which usually end up with us waking up to find two little people tucked in next to us.

So there you have it. 4 different opinions from 4 different people. But what makes the perfect bed set up for you? Let us know!

Comments - What do you think?
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