Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
Get 2017's hottest layout, packed with goodies and with the luxury of space in this 7.89m-long, 2.33m-wide, twin-axle Alaria RI – but does it add up?
The range offers a higher-spec kitchen than the already opulent Delta range and, with more domestic styling to the lounge to make things that little bit more comfortable, it was partly designed with seasonal caravanners in mind.
To heighten that sense of luxury, there are standard self-levelling steadies.
There are three models in the range, each with essentially the same lounge layout.
We have already reviewed the Alaria TI, which has a transverse island bed and end washroom. Here, for those who prefer the current trend of a central, full-width washroom, along with a transverse island bed, we look at the Alaria RI.
Pitching and setting up
Fortunately, life is made easier on the road by an ATC trailer control system, AKS stabiliser and shock absorbers fitted as standard.
Life is also made easier on site because the standard E&P self-levelling system means that the hard work of getting the van pitch perfect is taken away from you.
The caravan is pre-wired for the motor mover that most buyers are expected to fit, too.
It’s let down a little by the lush curtains held in place on the wall by the tried-and-tested method of slightly cheap-looking Velcro attached to the tie-backs.
There’s even a footstool, which will be a boon for shorter folk who may find that the sofas’ deep squabs make it harder for them to rest their feet on the floor.
While taking up floor space, the footstool does offer extra seating when entertaining guests and has storage for magazines, knitting and so on.
Along with the windows, the sunroof and long rooflight, which extends right across to the kitchen, help to make this area bright.
Come evening, you can take advantage of the eight LED lights set in the moulding for these two openings, as well as ambient lighting behind the lockers, and three spotlights – adding a touch of glamour is the ability to alter the colour of the lighting to suit your mood.
The foldaway table is a little small if there are four of you – but then the footstool can double up as a chair for the outer side of the table. You might also need to make use of the flap that pulls out from below the illuminated cocktail cabinet.
The ‘L’ shape of the seating arrangement gives everyone a view of the TV without getting cricked necks.
A 21in Avtex TV and DVD player is included as standard on its own bracket next to the door, as is a radio/CD/MP3 player with Bluetooth in the front offside locker. USB sockets are located between the lounge and the kitchen.
However, even at this price, the door doesn’t include an internal grabhandle for when you are trying to close a door in the face of high winds.
There’s no problem when it comes to ventilation: you get a large window next to the circular sink, plus an extractor fan above the dual-fuel, four-burner hob that crowns the Thetford Aspire 2 separate oven and grill. The latter is glass-fronted.
A pan locker below the oven is partly compromised by the wheelarch, but the left-hand cupboard under the sink includes a cutlery drawer and two pull-out baskets. That on the right has a drawer and two shelves.
Across the aisle is a large, 180-litre Dometic AES fridge/freezer and above that a Daewoo microwave. Below is a cupboard for pans that is also partly taken up by a wheelarch.
However, it has no rooflight, and it is on the offside, putting the toilet on the nearside, so if you have an awning set up, the cassette will need to be carried through it.
Next to the shower you get a shelving unit with a mirrored door, adjacent to a ladder-style towel rail that’s part of the Alde heating system.
Beside the toilet is a wide, shelved cupboard below a half-height wardrobe and a small ledge. The central, bowl-shaped washbasin has a large mirror behind it and yet another cupboard beneath it.
It also has a good, firm mattress with an adjustable head section. Above the headboard are discreet speakers and lights, as well as two small shelves.
On the left is a narrow wardrobe with a drawer and small cupboard below, and the same on the right, minus the drawer. At the foot of the bed is space for a TV and a shelf, plus aerial, 12V and mains sockets.
The front double is easily made up by pulling out a frame from the front sofa and rearranging the cushions. At 1.26m wide it is a little narrow, and the long curtain on the nearside might get in the way.
There is one good-sized overhead locker in the front lounge, and two more over the bed, although one of these houses the aerial fitting.
The Alaria from Lunar Caravans is not as unique as you might think. The Buccaneer Commodore also has a self-levelling system, and other manufacturers are designing with the very top end of the market in mind. It also looks a touch dear in comparison.
However, if you really value a domestic-style living space with ‘rooms’ for sleeping and ablutions, plus quirky extras, it is certainly a caravan worth looking at – as long as you have a large enough tow car.
- The front lounge is very comfortable
- It has a long list of safety features that makes towing such a large van easier
- It's quite pricey
- The door needs an internal handle
- The toilet and shower could do with swapping sides, which would mean putting the bed against the offside wall