Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
The three-model Alaria range is an all-new-for-2017 luxury brand from Lunar Caravans – here we review the transverse-island-bed/end-washroom TI
Yes, you read that right. You’ll have to find more than £30,000 to own a new Alaria TI.
That may seem like an awful lot of cash, but there is some sense behind that pricing. Parent company Lunar believes that luxury caravans are most in demand at the moment. While it has been buoyed in 2016 by a 7% rise in overall sales, it has also seen a 93% rise in sales of its hitherto top-notch Delta range.
While it's primarily a touring caravan, the new Alaria brand is also partly aimed at those who want a seasonal tourer. That may explain the new range’s title – it’s an Italian girl’s name that translates as ‘accommodating’, although Lunar prefers to use the alternative meanings of 'independence', 'confidence' and 'inquisitiveness'.
It also explains why the van comes with a superior kitchen to the Delta, and with proper domestic-style seating in a more comfortable L-shaped lounge.
All three models in the new Alaria range feature this front lounge and differ only in what lies beyond the kitchen.
The TI, which we are reviewing here and which Lunar expects to be the biggest seller, mirrors the layout of the similar best-selling Lunar Delta TI in having a transverse island bed and an end washroom.
Pitching and setting up
But it’s an impressive trick. And it does explain why the price is substantially above the £30k mark that other luxury manufacturers like to stick to.
The E&P self-levelling system may be the big-ticket item, but all Alarias are also pre-wired for a motor mover and have a 100W solar panel on the roof.
Inside, an RGB lighting switch lets you adjust the lighting to fit your mood. Or you can just pretend you’re at a disco!
All three of the new Alarias come with twin axles, for more stable and comfortable towing. You get smart new alloy wheels, too, and blue LED lighting illuminates the grabhandles – although this is more for show than any practical reason.
The carbonfibre-effect black colour blocking on the front gas-locker lid of the Alaria is very much in keeping with the Lunar look for its luxury ranges. It’s very fetchingly set off on this new flagship by the copper-coloured accents that come with it.
The only slight surprise in a caravan of this price is the lack of a really robust handle on the inside of the door panel.
The whole area is flooded with daylight, too, thanks to a panoramic window up front and a long ‘SkyView’ rooflight down the middle. The grey, beige and dusty pink colour scheme is also easy on the eye.
The designers have included a footstool, which adds to the luxury feel and fits under the inside of the under-seat locker for when you are towing - although you'll need to lift the seat bast and it's a fairly tight squeeze. You would want to stow it away, because we suspect that even a heavy item like this might move about if you are towing down a particularly windy road – or if, heaven forbid, you have an accident.
Once deployed, the footstool can be used as an extra seat around the fold-away table. This should make for a more convivial – if slightly unconventional – dining arrangement, because three sides of the table are then put into use. The table itself is stowed at the front of the galley and is unusually easy to erect.
A spotlight in each front corner provides plenty of illumination for reading at night. Or you can sit back and watch the TV.
This top-spec caravan also comes equipped with a 21-inch Avtex television and DVD player. It’s positioned above the small cupboard to the right of the door, which also houses a pop-up tower containing a TV socket, plus three mains and one 12V socket for those who may prefer other kinds of digital distraction.
Because there are so many sockets here, there aren’t any elsewhere in the front lounge, although someone sitting near the kitchen could make use of the sockets there. It’s unlikely that everyone will need to be plugged in all the time, anyway.
That TV arrangement is where a cocktail cabinet would be in a Lunar Delta, so in the Alaria the designers have taken advantage of the ‘L’ shape to move the cabinet on to the nearside of the lounge. It’s placed high up, and is lit by LED lighting when you pull up the flap below it.
The flap acts as a bar, from where presumably you can easily serve your guests seated in the lounge. You could also use it as a small table with the footstool if only one of you is eating.
There’s a four-ring hob with an electric hotplate – which we have come to expect as standard in a top-notch caravan – but also an extractor fan, which we have not.
There’s a large work surface in a stylish and practical slate-grey finish around a circular steel sink. You'll find a mains socket and two USB sockets above it.
One of the three large overhead lockers is shelved, while two big cupboards underneath the worktop have clever pull-out drawers to maximise space. Surprisingly, none of the drawers in the caravan are soft-close.
Across the aisle you get a massive 190-litre fridge/freezer with space for a pan locker underneath it, and a standard Daewoo microwave.
The Alaria TI's central vanity unit has a backlit mirror above it with LED lighting at the top. There is also a heated towel rail by the offside loo and a pull switch.
But there’s an optional mattress extension, and a clever fold in the base provides you with a bolster to sit up in the mornings and admire the view through the large window as you drink your tea. You may be surprised to find there are no curtains to soften this window – just a blind.
Should you want to listen to the radio, there are two speakers over the headboard, along with individually controlled lights. At the foot of the bed on the front side is a small cupboard with a bracket for a second TV above it, together with mains, 12V and TV sockets nearby.
There is a wardrobe, a drawer and a cupboard that is partly taken up by the wheelarch on the front side, and a narrower version of the same on the other side of the bed.
Here you also have a usefully large mirror lit by LED lights so it resembles a dressing table. That’s the kind of thing that someone using the caravan as a second home, rather than as a base for a quick weekend dash to the hills, would really appreciate.
Should you need to use the front lounge for sleeping, the bed is 2.04m long, although this is likely to shrink to around 1.90m if you retain some of the back cushions to act as a headboard.
In the past it has been said that an L-shaped lounge begins to lose its appeal if you ever have to turn it into a double bed, because one of the bed’s occupants will have to put up with a mattress that is cobbled together from cushions.
However, in the Alaria you don’t have to sacrifice so much comfort. Having said that, you do have to use the six cushions of the settee to make up the bed – so no, it isn’t the comfiest on its own. But that is why a mattress topper comes as standard.
One other plus point is that, even with the bed made up, there is still a seat left in situ right by the kitchen. So an early riser either here or in the double at the back can enjoy a quiet morning cuppa without disturbing anyone else.
In addition to the kitchen storage, there are two overhead lockers in the bedroom, and two more in the front lounge. There are also two shelves next to the cocktail cabinet that are primarily designed for bottles.
There is also accessible space under the L-shaped settee, although on the offside this area is partly taken up by the fusebox.
The 2017 Alaria TI from Lunar Caravans is a comfortable and well-equipped caravan. But it’s not as spacious as its key rival, the 8ft-wide Buccaneer.
Furthermore, the inclusion of the self-levelling system makes it expensive – although older caravanners or those with limited mobility will find this a boon when touring extensively.
And if you’re looking to spend more than £30,000 on a four-berther you probably welcome every luxury it gives you. Just make sure you have a good look at the opposition before making your decision.
- The soft furnishings are tasteful and very comfortable
- The lounge has plenty of natural light
- It has a well-equipped kitchen
- The LED lighting is highly customisable
- Some items you'd expect at this price are missing, like a proper door grabhandle, curtains in the bedroom and soft-close drawers