Claudia Dowell
Features Editor

See other caravan reviews written by Claudia Dowell

See what the expert review team at Practical Caravan thought of the 2013 Bailey Unicorn Cartagena with its transverse-island-bed layout

Overview

Bailey launched the transverse-island-bed, end-washroom configuration in autumn 2009, in the mid-market Pegasus 554. The layout is designed to offer a fixed bed accessible on both sides – ideal for getting to the washroom without disturbing your partner.  

The Bailey Unicorn II Cartagena brings this floor plan into the Bristol brand’s hugely successful upmarket line-up. This latest Unicorn has a restyled front with opening skylight and eye-catching price and weights.  

Pitching and setting up

The Cartagena runs on a twin-axle Al-Ko chassis with a button-assisted handbrake and heavy-duty corner steadies.
Unusually for a premium van, the jockey wheel is fixed to the side of the fairing. The gas locker is on the offside, over the axle.

Electrical connections are made on the nearside, where you’ll also find an external gas point and 230V socket; the water system connects on the offside. The two-piece caravan door is hinged on the left, but when open the door doesn’t foul the nearside front window.

An integrated control panel is to the left as you enter, and the mains consumer unit sits at the kitchen end of the nearside seat bench.

Lounge

The vertical skylight is the stand-out feature here and is perfectly complemented by the recessed three-drawer centre chest and capacious front shelf.

With such a large expanse of skylight and rooflight, this area will never seem dingy, while the fabric scheme and walnut wood tones provide a pleasing ambience. The seat cushions are firm, although the squabs felt a little squishy, and four scatter cushions will provide extra comfort.

An 18.5in flat-screen TV with DVD player is standard kit; it can be set up on the front shelf, where there’s a plug socket and aerial feed, or on the bulkhead next to the caravan door.

Kitchen

With its split-level worktop, mirrored drinks cabinet and upright fridge/freezer, the Cartagena’s kitchen certainly looks the part.

Equipment levels are premium, too, including a dual-fuel cooker, separate oven and grill, and microwave oven. There isn’t a lot of work surface, but this can be augmented by dropping the cooker lid. The worktop stands 0.87m from the floor, compared to 0.95m at the sink, which shorter cooks should find agreeable.

The circular sink dictates the shape for the storage unit beneath, accessed via a curved door which secures via a positive catch. A soft-closing cutlery drawer sits above a large cupboard and a rooflight above the cooker will help clear cooking smells.

Washroom

Domestic-style refinement comes in the shape of a cord-operated light, laundry basket, shaving mirror, towel rail and hooks for bathrobes. In addition, an oval basin replaces last season’s water-thirsty Belfast sink.

A circular shower unit stands in the nearside corner. With a grey storage pod mounted behind the showerhead, a roof vent and two drain holes, it’s eye-catching and practical, but larger people may find it a little compact.

The location of the toilet-roll holder – to the left at shoulder height – is not ideal either. Nor is the clear window in the rear wall.

Beds

Bailey opts for an adjustable rear bed: to create clearance around the foot of the bed during the day, you fold up a small fillet of mattress near the headboard. At night, you do the reverse.

The sprung mattress isn’t the firmest on test, although the bedroom ambience is agreeable; a rooflight and offside window let in plenty of light, and the window frame surround and headboard are finished using the lounge fabrics. A dresser at the foot of the bed has a TV point.

Storage

Couples won’t struggle fitting their touring kit in the Cartagena. In addition to space under the fixed bed, there are four tall lockers in the lounge, with extra room under both seat benches.

The kitchen has four overhead lockers and a cupboard, plus a dresser to the right of the caravan door. An offside corner unit and under-sink cupboard take care of washroom storage, and the two wardrobes in the bedroom are both 0.35m wide with drops of 1m.

Outside, a pair of front corner wet lockers can hold muddy boots.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1519kg
Payload160kg
MTPLM1679kg
Interior length6.23m
Shipping length7.89m
Width2.28m
Height1.96m

Verdict

The Bailey Unicorn Cartegna is chock-full of the latest must-have kit. 

The Bailey has a good lounge, but there are are flaws in its kitchen and washroom: with no rail in the shower, for example, there’s nowhere to dry wet clothes. 

Its fixed bed retracts for the daytime and extends to full size for night-time. But if it needs to be tinkered with twice a day, is it really a fixed bed? The trade-off is space around the foot of the bed, and access to the washroom. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • Plenty of storage, including two wardrobes
  • Laundry basket in the washroom
  • Washroom has towel rails and hooks
  • Stylish kitchen

Cons

  • Fixed be has to be altered twice a day
  • Shower unit is a bit snug
  • Jockey wheel is fixed to side of fairing
  • No rail in shower to hang wet things
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