If flexible family accommodation, high quality build and fittings, delightful soft furnishings and enough specification to satisfy family needs all for a mid-range price are on your caravan wish list, then consider the Elddis Avanté 556.
It has the star triple-bunk layout that has swept into the caravan market and has fast become the number one for families. It gives you beds for six on one axle, in just 5.4 metres of body, and weighs only 1332kg (MRO).
There are compromises, of course, in order to get so much accommodation into a short length. The kitchen is small on storage and small on surface. And the shower is fine for slim or small people but imperfect for six-footers with big shoulders.
The 556’s great positive point, though, is at the back. Dining/playing/television-watching space for four kids.
You don’t have to have four children to benefit from the flexibility of this layout. Look at it this way: Two can sleep on the bunks, leaving either top or base bunk for storage. One can sleep on a bunk and one on the single bed that makes from the dining area alongside.
The base bunk folds up to create a huge storage area – great for transporting the water containers. But the 556 goes one better. The central bunk also folds up and secures with a press-studded strap. So you have an area tall enough to house at least two cycles (or more, depending on the size of the cycles).
At the opposite end of the caravan are settees long enough to make single beds (or a double, of course). You have dining or lounge seating for up to six and storage space, everywhere, matches the six-berth brief in terms of clothing, bedding and other essentials.
Everywhere, that is, except the kitchen. Storage space here is confined to three slim drawers in a central cabinet. They’re perfect for cutlery and cooking utensils but little else.
Kitchen surface space is confined to a hinged extension which comes out over the nearside settee. So your organisational skills will have to be used to juggle food prep with the need to keep the hob and sink covers down when you need the surface space. But remember you get a lot of accommodation in a short length and kitchen organisation is a compromise worth making.
In the washroom, the shower is separated from the toilet and tip-up basin by a substantial plastic partition which folds into two sections out of the way against the offside wall and easily clicks into place across the little room when in use.
The plus-point here is that, although the shower shares its room with the loo, it can be separated, so you only have to dry out the tray, not the entire compartment, after each shower.
And there’s a really important touch at roof level – a rail running the width of the washroom; use it for towels (there’s a loop but that’s good for only one towel, not six!) or hang garments here to dry. It’s a small feature but a really important one.
The Avanté 556 ticks a lot of family-needs boxes. Add in little features like the washroom-length towel rail and you have an excellent package.
Insurance cost: £226*
*Caravan insurance cost based on 2010 Elddis Avante 556 valued at £14,599, fitted with hitchlock, wheelclamp and an alarm system. Kept on drive behind locked gates at HX4 0BE. Caravanners over 30 years old, claim free for 3 years and a member of a caravanning club. Premium includes insurance premium tax at 5% and an online discount of 10% and is correct as of 16.06.10.