Alastair ClementsSee other caravan reviews written by Alastair Clements
Bucking the usual trend for Bailey caravans, this 2017-season, central-washroom Unicorn Cabrera is responding to market forces – is it the right answer?
Bristol-based Bailey is different to the other British manufacturers. While most rivals unveil updates to all of their ranges every year, Bailey tends to launch a new model then leave it largely unchanged for three seasons before an all-new replacement arrives.
So what are we doing reviewing a new Unicorn, just two years into its production cycle?
This is market forces at work. Such is the popularity of the centre-washroom, rear-island-bed floorplan adopted by every other manufacturer over the past two seasons, that Bailey wanted a piece of the action.
The result is this, the Bailey Unicorn Cabrera. It breaks with the Bailey flagship precedent by having its washroom in the middle, rather than across the rear – where instead you’ll find an island bed.
From outside it’s little changed from the remainder of the Unicorn range, although the Cabrera has a smaller, square front-nearside window and a slightly raised central-washroom window. It’s better-looking than the previous Unicorn, but is starting to look a bit dated beside the likes of the Swift Conqueror.
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Pitching and setting up
There’s a full compliment of Al-Ko goodies, including an AKS stabiliser, ATC trailer stability control and shock absorbers – there’s even a Secure wheel lock included in the standard spec.
That generosity continues as you look down the kit list, which features a 100W solar panel, an external 230V socket and gas barbecue point, a Tracker Retrieve, Alde 3020 heating, and branded Bridgestone tyres along with TyrePal tyre-pressure sensors.
There’s an external hatch giving access to the front bed box, but no way to get into the void under the rear bed, which seems a missed opportunity. Especially because the Unicorn’s Alu-Tech construction, with a structural rear wall, would have allowed this.
Some won’t like the fact that the hook-up cable plugs in on the nearside, creating a potential trip hazard in your awning – but it’s good to see the remainder of the services relegated to the offside.
The waste-water pipes are well placed behind the axle line.
Despite that, this is really only a lounge for four unless you are willing to get very cosy – though the sofas themselves are comfy, with thickly padded bolsters.
Only one of you will be able to fully recline (against the kitchen counter) and relax when watching telly, however, because the sole TV point in this area is on the front shelf.
It’s also a shame that you’ll need to traipse to the back of the van and lift the bed to access the freestanding table. That front shelf has a pull-out occasional table beneath, though, and it does provide useful storage – as do the two quarter-circular shelves above.
On the nearside you’ll also find a magazine rack affixed to the wall – presumably the reason for that smaller side window.
Talking of windows, the lounge is flooded with light thanks to the full-height front glazing, which features a padded surround studded with downlighters to add to the pleasant evening ambience.
It’s mainly there to reinstate the storage space lost by Bailey’s decision to house the gas bottles in the centre of the van, to improve weight distribution.
There’s a lift-up flap to offer additional workspace, and you’ll also find a couple of 230V sockets and the Alde touchscreen controller here, beneath a drinks cabinet.
On the nearside there’s a Dometic 133-litre tower fridge/freezer, with a top-spec Thetford cooker opposite featuring a separate oven and grill, as well as a dual-fuel hob.
A common problem with centre-washroom caravans is the proximity of the door to the cooker, meaning that the chef gets a pasting when the door is opened. But Bailey has shifted the unit forward just enough to give a recess for the slimmer cook to slip into and allow someone out of the bathroom.
The only real downsides we could find were that there’s a fairly small window, and the microwave is directly above the hob.
There’s plenty of room for dressing, and the sense of space is aided by a huge central mirror, a rooflight and a window – though it’s a shame the latter isn’t opaque.
At night there’s bags of lighting, including in the circular, fully lined shower on the nearside. It suffers from some wheelarch intrusion, but is roomy and features four shelves for soaps and shampoos.
In the centre of the room there’s a vanity unit with a proper sink, and on either side there are sliding doors into the bedroom.
The finish here is attractive, with lots of gloss white and timber highlights. Neat details abound, too, including four towel hooks and a built-in laundry basket on the offside, beside the loo.
The cushions are thickly padded, though, so should be comfortable despite the double bed’s narrow width. There are spotlights in each corner for night-time reading.
The rear master bedroom is going to be a big part of the Bailey Unicorn Cabrera’s appeal for most buyers, and it’s an extremely pleasant space to be in. This is thanks to its with large windows featuring domestic-style curtains, plus a rooflight overhead.
One serious word of warning here: at 5ft 10in long, the Cabrera's fixed bed is the shortest we’ve come across in a van of this layout. And the bulkhead at either end means there’s no option to lengthen it.
If that’s long enough for you, though, there’s a lot to recommend it. You’ll find a padded headboard and a fabric footer. The TV is set at a sensible height on the bulkhead, with the relevant sockets, and there’s good lighting, with perimeter spots. An extra socket is fitted on the nearside for charging mobile phones, plus each side gets a shelf.
There’s also no sideboard, but the kitchen does offer lots of room in its drawers and cupboards. Things improve in the washroom with a huge cabinet beneath the sink, plus another smaller example on the wall, but the majority of storage options are to be found in the rear bedroom.
There are slim wardrobes on either side of the bed – the offside one containing the header tank for the Alde heating – plus overhead lockers and, of course, the large void beneath the fixed bed. Sadly, however, this space is dominated by the freestanding lounge table.
The highlight of Bailey’s version of this layout is the washroom, which feels roomier than that of most of its single-axle rivals. It does necessitate a short fixed bed and a lounge that doesn’t leave much room for more than four, but both of these compromises are common in this layout.
The new washroom in particular gives a sense of luxury that goes hand-in-hand with the Unicorn’s finish and high spec levels – at a price that undercuts many key rivals.
- The Cabrera has an unusually large centre washroom for a single-axle caravan
- You get high spec levels throughout
- It has been thoughtfully designed
- The rear fixed bed is short, with no external access to the storage beneath
- This model is heftier than other single-axle Unicorns