So retro! Muddy road-tests a stay in an American Airstream
Want to holiday like it's 1956? Read our latest review, then nab the chance of winning a 3-night escape in a vintage Airstream worth £750 for yourself!
There can’t be many stays that double as a mirror to apply your lippy, but look! Muddy has found a shiny, happy glamping holiday, in the most beautifully restored 1956 American Airstream, tucked away in a rustic valley in the South Hams.
Talk about 1950s glamour. This stay evokes open roads and Elvis Presley be-bop-a-lula vibes like nothing Muddy has ever encountered. I’m all shook up!
Seriously, here is SO much fun. I rocked up with Mr Muddy, with a head full of Muddy Awards madness, and here is so fascinating, it totally takes you out of yourself.
Shining like a National guitar *as Paul Simon might say*, with sexy curves and neat rivets, it’s a glorious ghost of vintage Americana. And such a contrast with its peaceful setting, like a hip-swivelling rockerbilly shaking things up at a Seth Lakeman concert. It was owned by a member of Wally Byam’s Caravanners Club, and the original stickers from a 1961 Omaha, Nebraska meeting are still on the windows. Coolio, or what?
This is one of three types of luxurious self-catering options at Dittisham Hideaways, owned by hotelier Peter de Savary who also owns Muddy-approved and award-winning hotel and spa at Babbacombe, The Cary Arms.
Uphill from the Airstream are four family and dog-friendly glamping stays, though the words scarcely do justice to the circular Treehouses, with their individual decor, private decks, and underfloor heating.
Downhill are five new Shepherds Huts (lucky shepherds, I say).
Some are dog-friendly with bowls, beds and welcome mats waiting, and one of the huts, called Beech, has a mini-me hut for the kids, with a high-tech listening system installed. So very thoughtful.
It feels secluded, but you’re just a mile up the hill from beautiful upmarket Dittisham, ‘Ditsum‘ to the locals. The village is right on the River Dart and where Muddy wishes she could live, but I’d have to sell one (make that two) of the kids, and where a certain Dimbleby has a holiday home on the riverside.
The larger harbour town of Dartmouth on the River Dart is only a ten minute drive away, where you can dine out, splurge in the galleries, or take a boat trip to see the coast.
Or just chill, surrounded by wildflowers and woods full of wild garlic, and bluebells (in spring at least). I say ‘wild’ but there’s a team of gardeners keeping things in hand.
The interior is a mix of retro and modern, giving you the best of the old while being kitted out with contemporary white goods, meaning none of the 1950s housewifery.
So, voila! The galley kitchen has a Neff dishwasher, a smart TV and Bose speakers for your King of Rock tunes so you can party like its 1956.
Retro-wise…look at the the amazing structure of the interior or the caravan, giving me the glowing golden halo I always knew I deserved, while Muddy’ing away on the computer in the lounge area. Check out that foxy built-in sofa. Sheer glamour.
Loads of thought has gone into the restoration – vintage fabrics for the cushions and curtains.
There’s a small built in bathroom with shower, so no midnight loo runs with the torch, yay.
The only thing I’d like extra (along with geek glasses) would be some historical info about the history of the Airstream in the welcome folder. I did find it online (don’t worry, there’s wifi), and was amazed to discover Airstreams date back to the 1920s. Inventor Wally Byam had a vision to create a quality home that would trail, light as air, behind your car. They’re still being made to the present day, and yes, I would buy one if I had the space and I happened upon a bank safe left ajar.
All very comfortable, thank you. The bed is a double not a king, but you can’t have a beautiful bijou 1950s caravan and space to sprawl, now can you?
Plus, the bedding is sourced from Devon Duvets, a local company who make 100% natural duvets from locally-sourced wool, with zero nasties.
The only odd thing, when we got our heads down we noticed a bit of a drone from outside (electric generator, maybe?). Just loud enough to make you wonder momentarily what it was, and then dear reader, I fell asleep.
SCOFF & QUAFF
We packed some herb tea and brekkie, but no need as you arrive to a basket brimming with tea, coffee for the coffee machine, biccies, crisps, cereal, bread, jam, fruit, and in the fridge there was a chilled bottle of rose (don’t ask me the name but it was excellent), and fresh milk.
A nice touch was the wee dram of sloe gin all set up with shot glasses and Alice-in-Wonderland come-hither label.
Eating out-wise, you can stay close by and book a meal at the iconic pink pub, The Ferry Boat Inn on the shoreline (aka the FBI), although they don’t serve food every night.
Do pop in for a pint overlooking the Dart, if only to check out the funny, furry toy otter which ‘climbs’ up and down a rope every time someone comes in the door. Also good for daytime – but book in advance – the riverside cafe, The Anchorstone.
Ten minutes way by car is Dartmouth and here is lashings of gastronomic choice. For posh, try the new Andria everyone is raving about, or The Seahorse (award-winning, delicious local caught fish, excellent wine list) or female chef extraordinaire Elly Wentworth at The Angel. Or for good quality fish and chips on a wall, Rockfish. Not cheap but fresh, local and very tasty.
Nope, and it’s not meant to be. This is your romantic retreat, designed for couples to unwind and be young and hip. Or possibly not in our case, but, boy, did we feel like we were!
Lord yes, I’ve barely scratched the surface but I don’t want to bang on forever, so in brief…
There’s a wood-fired hot tub for relaxing with a glass while overlooking the hills, and an outdoor chess board for your brainy Kasparov moment.
And your own table football – she shoots she scores! Ah no, she didn’t but I had an utter hoot trying. Cheating at table football is always a great way to settle old scores with your other half, no?
There’s also a communal table tennis table, in an undercover wooden hut – great for the old action shot! Pingpong championships here we come.
What else? The hammock, for lazing and listening to the bird life – they are so loud and joyous here. (Do birds have bigger lungs in Dittisham?) The hammock is a double so you can have a real laugh just trying to get in and out of it.
A small thing, but it was comforting to be able to park up right next to the caravan and not have to walk up and down the slope, though they have helpfully provided electric wheelbarrows if needed. And electric charging points.
OUT & ABOUT
The rivers, beaches and upmarket towns of the stunning South Hams are all within half an hour’s drive, including Totnes with its indie high street and coffee shops, Dartmouth – good for galleries, boat trips and foodies.
Head down to Dittisham and if you ring this bell (between 9am- 5pm) the little ferry will come and scoop you up and take you to the other side of the River Dart (it’s Devon’s answer to the Uber) where you will find Agatha Christie’s former holiday home, Greenway, now owned by the National Trust. Check out the boat house which featured as a setting for a murder *naturally* in one of her novels. The Georgian house itself is charming, laid out with a straw hat here and an open book here, like the novelist might have left it.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Sign me up to the Caravan Club! And if you fancy trying it yourself, head over to Muddy Devon Reader Treats for your chance to WIN a 3-night weekend Vintage American Airstream Escape, worth £750.
Good for: catnip for Americana lovers, romantic play-dates, bird watchers and anyone in need of an instant decompress. Perfect as a base to explore the South Hams.
Not for: nature-phobes, claustrophobes and city slickers who prefer cosmopolitan fumes to fresh air.
The damage: A weekend booking in May costs £750.00 for a minimum of 3 nights; a mid-week, 4-night break is £900.00.