Roulotte Retreat is a unique one-of-a-kind luxurious ‘caravan’ type holiday – I say ‘caravan’ loosely as the accommodation units are actually all Gypsy style vans, or, more correctly termed, Roulottes.
They are located approx ten miles or so from the Borders town of Melrose and can be reached by car quite easily, or, via a taxi service using the local railway service. I say can be reached easily, however, if you use a sat-nav you’ll end up at a neighbours address, and, by all accounts they’re getting a little fed up of unwanted visitors. After booking the proprietors, Avril and Allan will send you some specific travel directions which will guide you to the car park.
The site ethos is one of eco-friendly and this approach is carried through in many different areas of the business operation.
The site with the seven units, six French and one Dutch Roulotte is located in a wildflower meadow at the rear of the proprietors own home. There is off-road car parking for approx 10-12 vehicles, but it would be pretty tight to manoeuvre when full. At the time of our stay, there were only another three cars, so ample room.
Guests should note that the entry time for all arrivals is strictly 4pm, and despite us arriving around 3.15pm we waited in the car until 4pm until our van (Rosa Bella) was checked for us, at which point we were escorted by Avril and Allan to the unit.
As our visit was in mid-September the wildflower meadow had ‘gone over’ and unfortunately, it looked rather untidy. I suspect that the reason for that look was down to letting the wildflowers set seed for next year. On a constructive point, perhaps a good idea would be to mow paths into the meadow to allow guests easier, and safer access underfoot. Again guests should be aware that they will need a torch if you have to negotiate the route back from the car park at night. It’s pitch black, which is probably great for the stargazers, but not quite so wonderful for those who have had a pint or two with their dinner! The pathways are unlit, and in keeping with the eco-friendly approach, we didn’t leave any lights on when leaving for the evening.
Again, I’m going to take a constructive criticism approach here, because we had a super time over the weekend we stayed, and would certainly return. On arrival at the Roulotte, the decking area had grass and weeds growing up through it, the front door was damaged and had been ‘patched up’ to hold it together, the patio set needed staining or painting, and there were weeds/wildflowers growing up the side of the unit. I would imagine perhaps a five-foot strip of mown ground around the exterior would not only look much tidier but would allow guests to reach the shutters, which, on our first night we needed as the rain was driving in the bedroom window. Our Roulotte just looked like it needed a wee bit of TLC. But hey, it’s all subjective, and like I said certainly not a deal-breaker.
Internally, we had a sitting area/salon complete with seating for four persons and a wood burner, for which we were supplied with both firelighters and a supply of briquettes and was sufficient for our weekend visit. Keep in mind, when the fire is on, it’s delightfully warm, and there’s no need to load up with a full complement of fire material, otherwise, you’re likely to roast!
There are also two electric heaters, one in the main bedroom, and the second in the kitchen area, off which is the second cabin bed area. The kitchen is well stocked with most everything you will need. The Baby Belling cooker has two rings and a grill/cooker and is sufficient unless you’re trying to cook a roast dinner when you might just struggle ever so slightly. Do what we did, eat out. There’s plenty of good local restaurants within a five-mile radius. Our bedroom heater didn’t work, but it wasn’t a problem, as we don’t use heaters in the bedroom anyway. There were a couple of other minor glitches, but nothing which detracted from the very enjoyable stay we had.
The Roulotte’s have limited under-bed storage and don’t have wardrobes, but hangers are supplied if you want to hang garments. The kitchen does have a small fridge, which I can confirm works exceptionally well. Don’t do what I did and turned it up to chill a bottle of wine, then forget about it until you want to grill your bacon and sausage the following morning. Without a microwave to defrost them, you’re going to struggle – like I did!
The bathroom is quite adequate, and finding a shower with pressure like a ‘power shower’ was a very pleasant surprise indeed. Forget those days of 1970s caravan holidays where the shower ‘dripped’ at you. Hand soap was provided in the bathroom, as were bath towels, a hand towel, and a t-towel.
So would I recommend it, absolutely! If you want a get-away-from-it-all relaxing holiday, with no television, and limited mobile phone coverage (we got 4G) Roulotte Retreat is the place to be. The hosts Avril and Allan are there to ensure your stay goes without a hitch and are at the end of a tel if needed. We didn’t need them.
The location, ambience, the natural environment, the abundance of nature on the site – bats, rabbits, moorhens, a roe-deer one morning, makes for a welcome distraction from life’s woes, troubles and stresses, and one which you should experience, even if only once!