The question of what motorhome layout is best is a perennial question amongst motorhome owners. Many don’t get it right the first time round (or even the second) and most hotly debated of all is the choice of fixed bed versus rear lounge.
Continental vans tend to be heavily dominated by fixed rear beds with dinette front lounges, and until recently I was a fan of this layout. However, I’ve begun to waver in favour of the rear lounge – when touring abroad, my wife and I spend a lot of time lounging. At the same time, comfort in bed is important – and rear lounges tend to convert to much larger beds than fixed rear beds. The downside, of course, is the word ‘convert’ – you have to move cushions and bedding twice a day to switch between the two.
I’ve only ever had panel van conversions; my first one had a fixed rear (transverse) bed and my current one has a pull out/rock and roll type bed. The fixed bed was great for flopping into bed but didn’t make for very comfortable seating. The current setup, on the other hand, offers improved seating but is a pain to convert to and from a bed twice a day (partly because it’s not a very good design, but that’s another story).
I’m still not sure of my final preference – an A-class with a drop-down front bed, probably, but at the moment I wouldn’t want a motorhome that large. A large panel van is the ideal size for our style of touring.
Other people’s experience is a good place to get ideas when you’re looking for your first motorhome – there’s currently a long and interesting thread on permanent beds vs. rear lounges on the excellent Motorhome Facts forum. Check it out and leave your thoughts on the subject below – I’d love to hear your experiences, especially with van conversions.