All You Need to Know About Motorhome Bed Types
Author: Malcolm Street Date Posted: 24 July 2019
Different Types of Beds You Can Have in a Motorhome
There are a surprising amount of bed types available for motorhomes these days. Island, fixed, transverse, east west, north south, luton, cabover, French, corner, drop-down, single, double and caravan queen are all a host of terms that you may have heard of.
These bed types are found in all types of recreational vehicles, be it motorhome, campervan, caravan or fifth wheeler. Some are actually different words for the same thing, so here’s a bit of a rundown on what it all means
This is a slightly historical term, particularly in motorhomes. In the broadest sense it can refer to a U-shaped lounge, two sideways-facing lounges or a cafe-style dinette that can be folded down into a bed. Still seen today in many a rental motorhome and in some smaller caravans and motorhomes, they are used because they are a space saver and, in the case of a dinette, can be used as a second bed if visitors come calling. The disadvantage of course is that the bed normally has to be made up every night and in smaller motorhomes it’s a case of one to bed, all to bed.
Luton or cabover
This term refers to a bed above the driver’s cab that can be fitted in C class motorhomes. The cabover term is fairly obvious but luton is a bit more obscure. It’s a bit of a historical term which can be tracked back to the UK and commercial vehicles that were ‘luton bodied’ and originally built in the town of Luton.
The beds are usually in an east-west/transverse position but there is at least one manufacturer who produces a north-south bed arrangement. The advantage of a luton bed is that they are a space saver and in larger motorhome designs can provide a second or third bed. The downside is that a ladder is normally required to clamber into bed and with the east-west/transverse arrangement the inner occupant has to clamber over their partner.
East-west, north-south and transverse
In case you are wondering, the above terms are used to describe a bed position in any motorhome. North-south simply refers to a bed that runs fore and aft but doesn’t usually distinguish where the bedhead is. Obviously then, east-west/transverse is a bed across the motorhome and again with no bedhead distinction. All that said, Action Manufacturing which is part of the THL group, has in recent times produced a design with an angled bed in the rear. There’s no real term for it but using what we have already, something like south-east/north-west configuration — and that does tell you where the bedhead is!
Single, double and caravan queen
Single and double are obvious terms of course but ‘caravan queen’ is a slightly misleading term. Those new to the RV business think it means a queen sized bed but the caravan bit is the key word and usually means a mattress sized approximately 1.85m x 1.5m (6ft 1in x 5ft).
For taller persons RV bed lengths are often a bit short, particularly with double beds, and so single beds are sometimes a better choice because they can be longer. Some couples don’t like single beds but they offer the advantage of giving a more flexible layout. In smaller RVs they can double as daytime seating but without the disadvantage of having to be made up every night.
Usually in a north-south configuration but occasionally east-west, these are much favoured because they offer the advantage of accessibility from either side, and the ability to walk right around the bed. However there are some designs that have a partition at the base of the bed, which separates the bed from the rest of the motorhome. Advantages of the island bed for many are that it’s just like home and easy to make, but in terms of space efficiency and even sometimes practicality, island beds are not always the best feature.
I’m not exactly sure about the origins of this term but I suspect it is obvious and normally refers to a bed tucked into either rear corner of a motorhome. The bed usually has a tapered shape towards the foot and is designed that way because normally there is a bathroom fitted into the opposite corner. That is one of the advantages of a French bed, a great space saver. Disadvantages are that the person against the outer wall has more difficulty getting in and out and it is more fiddly to make up but it doesn’t have to be done every night.
One of the great innovations that has appeared in the RV scene during the last 10 years or so has been the drop-down bed. Acting exactly as described, a drop-down bed utilises the air space of an RV by being raised during the day and then dropping down to a usable level by night. One of the major advantages is that they can be left made up.
Drop-down beds are usually east-west/transverse and depending on the size of the RV can be across the rear, in the middle or in A class motorhomes above the driver’s cab seat. Sort of like a moveable luton in the latter case!
On the subject of moving, drop-down beds can be either hand-operated or electrically-driven. The advantage of the latter is obvious but hand-operated designs are often easy to move and there are fewer things to go wrong.
Drop-down beds can be the main or a second bed and whilst there are a few compromises such as no lounging area during the day in smaller motorhomes, they are an innovative idea. Some require a small ladder for access and those located mid motorhome are usually the easiest to make up.
A few last thoughts
There are a few more variations on a theme, usually in motorhomes. Like, for instance, a fixed east-west/transverse bed in the rear with a garage storage area underneath which makes for a fairly high bed requiring ladder access. Alternately there’s the same but with a north-south bed that occupies the entire area which makes for either a huge double bed or two large singles. Whatever the term used to describe RV beds, there’s often a compromise of some sort to be had be it budget, space usage, convenience or accessibility. The choice is yours to make!