By: Susan and Keith Hall, Photography by: Susan and Keith Hall

1949 Highway Palace The huge 1949 “Highway Palace” fifth wheeler has all the mod cons, including a separate bathroom 1949 Highway Palace
1949 Highway Palace Bath in the floor of the 1949 Highway Palace's ensuite 1949 Highway Palace
1959 Road Cruiser This 1959 Road Cruiser has a separate bathroom with toilet 1959 Road Cruiser
1959 Road Cruiser Compact bathroom in the 1959 Road Cruiser 1959 Road Cruiser
1940s caravan This 1946 custom built van has a bath beneath one of the beds 1940s caravan
1940s caravan Bath under the bed in a 1946 caravan 1940s caravan

Caravan ensuites have been around longer than you think. Discover quirky gems from the 1940s and 1950s in our photos of vintage caravan bathrooms.

All new caravan owners that we have met lately comment on how pleased they are with the en-suite bathroom in their van. These built in bathrooms are almost a must-have these days and owners describe them as being the newest and greatest invention. But are they really that new? We see a lot of vintage caravans in our travels and have seen en-suite bathrooms dating back as far as the 1940s.

Some were in special one-off custom caravans, like the 1949 fifth wheeler known as the Highway Palace. It has a separate bathroom with a bath set into the floor. We have also seen a 1946 custom-built van with a bath tucked away beneath a rear bed.

Others are mass market caravans like the late 1940s Don caravans, which had a bath beneath one of the seats. We have also seen a 1959 bondwood Road Cruiser with a small separate bathroom, complete with toilet, and a late 1950s DeeJay with a shower. In the 1960s American Airstream caravans also had a separate bathroom at the rear of the van.

So the modern trend to equip caravans with en-suites isn’t quite as revolutionary as you might think. But it is certainly true that they are becoming much more common, and the modern ones look more swish than the cutely retro bathrooms of the past.

Your say: What do you think of the current fad for caravan en-suites? Have you seen a retro en-suite, and if so what did you think of it? Tweet us @caravanworld or comment below...

Susan and Keith Hall are regular contributors to Caravan World magazine. Check out their latest blog entries at