From caravans and shepherd huts, to fishing boats and private jets, feel transported from everyday life on a break in a vintage vehicle by the sea
Words Alex Reece
1. TREE OF LIFE HORSEBOX
NEAR ST AGNES, CORNWALL
In a dreamy setting on an organic smallholding near the North Cornish coast is this traditional wooden horsebox. The lorry’s fit-out comprises a kitchen, seating area with woodburner and a double bed above the cab, which you access via stepped, built-in cupboards. Expect to find a complimentary box of organic produce on arrival (courtesy of owners Marie Welsh and Sylvia Carthew who run a veg box business). A hut with your own private compost loo and shower is 15m away. The nearest beach is Perranporth which is roughly two miles from the Horsebox.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps 2 (children can stay in their own tent alongside), from £85 per night (canopyandstars.co.uk/treeoflife).
2. THE JET STAR
NEAR TENBY, PEMBROKESHIRE
The Jet Star is a former private jet from the 1970s, which owner Toby Rhys-Davies has converted into quirky accommodation at his Apple Camping site in Wales. Among its original features are a lit-up bar area and the cockpit, which has a games console to entertain would-be pilots. Also on board is an airline-style living area, plus WC, while to the rear is a cabin housing a double bed (kitchen facilities and a shower block are located on site). Tenby, with its three beaches, is less than five miles away.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps 2 (or 2 adults and 2 children), £99 per night (applecamping.co.uk).
3. BLUEGRASS AT BEACON HILL HIDEAWAYS
This modern-day shepherd’s hut is in a wildflower meadow with sweeping views of the Northumberland coast. With a log fire, central heating, fitted kitchen and en-suite shower room, Bluegrass provides a high-end glamping experience. Plus, use of a spa, gym and pool (within walking distance) is included in the cost. The nearest beach is Newbiggin Beach.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps 2, from £135 per night (premiercottages.co.uk).
A fishing boat turned couple’s retreat, Faithful is moored in Brixham Marina, and is comfortably kitted out with a king-size bed, galley kitchen (along with utensils from HMS Ark Royal) and a proper shower. If you can tear yourself away from the views on deck of the harbour and seabirds soaring above, guests can ‘dip and dine’ (have a swim and £10 towards your meal) at the Berry Head Hotel in Brixham, and make free daytime use of the spa facilities at the Dart Marina Hotel in Dartmouth. Breakwater Beach is a Blue Flag beach close to Brixham Harbour. The town also has an open-air seawater swimming pool (Shoalstone Pool) by Shoalstone Beach.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps 2, from £100 per night (canopyandstars.co.uk/faithful).
Read next 10 Best Devon Hidden Gems
This 1880s third-class railway carriage has been cleverly converted to offer two bedrooms, a bathroom with shower, plus bi-fold doors opening onto a sundeck. Enjoy the direct sea views from the living room – where there is a woodburning stove – or use the telescope to stargaze at night. The shore is a stone’s throw from the property, which stands on Dungeness National Nature Reserve – a shingle landscape rich in wildlife and visual interest.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps 4, from £475 for 7 nights (bramleyandteal.co.uk).
WOODA FARM HOLIDAY PARK, BUDE, CORNWALL
Named after the first person to offer B&B at Wooda Farm in Bude back in 1975, Bessie is a 1958 British-made Eccles caravan, faithfully restored to create a retro retreat for two. Original features, such as the fridge, picnic table and chairs, are still intact, while the floral fabrics and vintage china complete the post-war look. The caravan has its own cooking hut next door, with a modern stove, microwave and fridge-freezer. A family bathroom and WC are also close by. From Bessie’s private garden on this family-run holiday park, there are views of the North Cornish coast.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps 2, from around £250 for a 3/4-night short break (01288 352069, wooda.co.uk/vintage-caravan).
7. HAPPY DAYS RETRO VACATION
Close to the Suffolk coast, Happy Days offers family-friendly accommodation consisting of seven American trailers and a 1970s British Cheltenham Sable, Little Elsie. All are kitted out in an upbeat retro style and have a fire pit outside. There are a number of fun activities on site – including a brand-new Escape Room, housed in a Nissen hut, in which groups must solve a puzzle along a vintage American theme in order to get out.
HOW DO I BOOK? Caravans sleep 4-5, from £260 for a weekend; or from £180 for Little Elsie, which sleeps 2 (01728 603424, happydaysrv.co.uk).
8. THE AIRSTREAM AT SWALLOW'S FLIGHT
Set in a walled courtyard on an historic farm, this sleek 1950s Airstream is sure to thrill aficionados of midcentury modern design. The curved, clean-lined interior is fitted with a small sink, gas hob and flushing loo – plus four kids’ bunk beds and a table that converts into a large double for the grown-ups. Modern-day comforts include a wood-fired hot tub, and an additional dining room and wet room next door. Spend time exploring the five-acre farm, where you’ll discover a campfire spot in the woods, and an honesty freezer stocked with Salcombe Dairy ice cream. South Devon’s powdery beaches are within easy walking or driving distance.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps up to 2 adults + 4 children, from around £89 per night (0117 2047830, canopyandstars.co.uk).
9. SIR JAMES
QUIRKY CAMPERS, LIVERPOOL AREA
This retro-style motor home is a creative combination of a VW T5 base and curvaceous aluminium body – the latter akin to an Airstream trailer in both looks and clever use of space. There is ample room for a family to hang out, with seating for up to six. Tucked away are a double bed for grown-ups and two small singles for kids. And no need to step out for facilities: Sir James has its own WC, shower, kitchenette and hot running water. Collect from Liverpool to embark on seaside adventures along the Sefton coast or in nearby North Wales.
HOW DO I BOOK? Sleeps 2 adults + 2 children, from around £276 for a three-night weekend (0330 1331121, quirkycampers.co.uk).