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Happy Days Retro Vacations
Moving out of London and living 'the dream' usually remains just that – a dream – for most of us. But for Kevin Armstrong, turning 40 and enduring a nasty motorbike accident turned the typical midlife crisis of ‘fancy cars, fancy hairpieces and fast woman’ into something more creative. His wife, Jenni, had fallen in love with beautiful, vintage Airstream caravans, and so on moving back to her childhood haunt the couple threw themselves into the business of seeking out then doing up their own.
Formerly based in East Dorset, 2015 saw the Happy Days team relocate to the tranquil outskirts of the peaceful Suffolk market town of Saxmundham. Their newly-acquired spot features ample room for their seven signature trailers and space for an additional two tents or retro caravans/ campers. Plans are also afoot, meanwhile, for an eighth American addition to the group, Wanda the Streamline trailer.
The current 4–5-berth Airstreams are each decorated in various colour themes (Betsy – red; Gloria – burgundy and strawberry; Peggy – blue; Annie – flamingoes; Dee Dee – floral and gingham; Elsie – green vintage; and Netty – 70s retro) and feature original wood veneer interiors. Every attention to detail has been poured into the furnishings, with crochet blankets, quaint curtains and kitsch cushions, while the retro feel of small items like the radio or strings of fairy lights and bunting add to the authentic feel of it all.
Outside meanwhile the new space has given room for adding a little extra flair to the proceedings. A polytunnel has been ingeniously converted into a cool social space – an all-season option for escaping the worst of the British weather – and a fantastic kids play area with swings, slide and a giant trampoline has been crafted around the site’s magnificently playful centrepiece: a 1950s French army truck that even the grown-ups will be clambering into!
The result is a site that really does seem to reflect Kevin and Jenni’s dreams. Cooking up a feast on the gas cooker and eating it al fresco on the picnic table, you can’t help but envy them. Fairy lights twinkle and the sun's light creates a farewell dance over the hedgerows opposite. Happy Days indeed.
FacilitiesEach airstream has a firepit (wood available for £5), fridge-freezer, kettle, cooker, sink, toaster, radio, DVD player, table and chairs, cooking utensils, WC for night-time use, games, torches, blanket plus other essential items including washing-up liquid, tea, coffee, salt & pepper. A new shower block features individual shower rooms and space for a family. There is a separate disabled access toilet and shower. Regular camping also available.
Suitable ForCouples, honeymooners, families, mixed groups – yes. Dogs (on a lead) are welcome and are allowed in 2 of the Airstreams. No male-only groups, all-adult groups are not permitted during school holidays and bank holiday weekends . Whole site hire available.
Explore the seaside-shingle splendour of well-heeled Aldeburgh, arguably the most popular spots to visit on the Suffolk Coast alongside neighbouring Southwold and Thorpeness. Foodies flock to this part of the world for the region's various gastronomic gatherings including the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival and the Suffolk Food Safari foraging days.
Food & Drink
The Bell at Sax' (01728 602331) is a fantastic new restaurant mere minutes away, helmed by Terrence Conran's former executive chef. Expect a menu of delicious, locally-sourced dishes at reasonable prices. The Dolphin Inn (01728 454994) at Thorpeness is a quintessentially welcoming Suffolk country pub, with a log fire, a choice of local brews and a menu of hearty, yet sophisticated favourites such as oven baked chicken breast, smoked bacon and onion hash, green beans, crispy fried egg. The fish don't come much fresher than at those on offer at Sole Bay Fish Co. (01502 724 241), sat right on the shore at Southwold. These fish shacks are the perfect setting for devouring plates of crab and lobster landed straight from the Suffolk coast. BYO bread and wine.
Start of March – end October.
Retro Airstreams and vintage camping trailers take parents back to their youth, while an old army truck and playground keeps children young as well. Happy families, happy camping, Happy Days.
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Rated ★★★★★ over 12 reviews
We had a fantastic weekend at Happy Days. Relaxed, stylish and fun - Jenny and Kevin are the perfect hosts.
The site is beautifully created and the retro caravans are works of art.
You can tell Happy Days is a labour of love - we will definitely be returning.
We stayed in one of Happy Days airstreams when they were pitched in Dorset. I'm glad they've moved to Suffolk because the campsite and area they were in before let them down a bit.
So I can't speak for the new campsite but the airstreams themselves are lovely. They are sweetly decorated in a Cath Kidston type style. The kitchen area is well equipped and everything works as it should! Good size fridge, proper gas hob and oven and all the cooking utensils you may need.There were even some cupcakes and local teas to welcome us on arrival!
The double bed in ours (I think it was Gloria) was a little cramped for my 6'3" husband but overall the caravan was spacious enough for a couple.
The outside area is also nicely equipped with a table and chairs big enough for a group. My sister and her 2 kids stayed in the caravan next to ours and they were happy with theirs too. We enjoyed toasting marshmallows over the campfire and the caravan had a heater to keep it toasty on a cooler evening.
Fabulous & Friendly
Happy Days were fantastic in Dorset but are now even better!!!, they have created a beautiful site, with amazing attention to detail in the service and facilities offered - The selection of gorgeous vintage Airstreams to rent, limited (but in a good way - think exclusive!) pitches available for visiting retro caravans / campers and tents. Free funky firepits for all, truly fabulous toilet and shower blocks. There is a clever, covered communal chill out space festooned with bunting, a secret truck tucked away provides an alternative den. Books, buckets and crab lines are available to borrow. A huge trampoline and selection of swings offer further entertainment in the garden and if you can (need to?) tear yourself away from the site, Saxmundham has a good selection of shops and take-aways.
Brilliant new campsite - highly recommended
We stayed last weekend on the opening weekend of the new campsite as they have moved to Suffolk. It was really fantastic, with so much attention to detail that really makes this place special. I thought it might have been a bit cold in early May but the Airstreams are heated and we were really comfortable. The site is great, with lovely big clean shower rooms that we were able to take the kids into with us which is ideal and easy.
There are firepits and wood available at each trailer which can be used in the communal central part too so we sat with other visitors in the evening but each van has plenty of privacy too. We've booked to go again in September. We stayed in Annie which has 2 double beds and lots of storage although we didn't need much for just a weekend but would be good for a longer stay. There are DVDs and board games in the van and in the reception and the owners are really friendly and welcoming. It's obviously a labour of love for them and they really go out of their way to make the place special. There are so many hidden touches that you discover over the stay and the kids love them!
The location is good, just over two hours from London and we went for a day to Southwold around half an hour away which has a great pier and good restaurants and cafes. There are other beaches within a 10 minute drive as well but we didn't check these out this time.
Highly recommend it and we are looking forward to visiting again.
Amazing stay at Happy Days :)
We have recently spent a wonderful weekend at the Happy Days Camp site, and I must say in terms of ticking all the boxes this place certainly gives any other site a run for its money. I can not express how hospitable Kevin was, its clear that him and Jenni have spent a lot of time paying attention to detail. Betsy our air-stream was beautiful, full of character and style and packed with all your retro camping essentials. A very impressive retro radio sits on the work top, carefully tuned to radio 2 ready for a Motown morning on awakening. I woke to see the beautiful sunrise over the lake which was all pink and orange...... just what you want when escaping the city........ We was pleased to find a full on sizable functioning gas oven that we used to cook up a storm. Kevin even delivered a backgammon board to us on special request.
Happy Days Retro Vacations
We stayed here over the Easter holidays in Gloria. Our girls thoroughly enjoyed the stay and we all loved the touches on arrival e.g cupcakes and flowers. The shower facilities were excellent, probably the best we ever had! It was ideally located for a family break.
There are two main reasons we haven't scored it higher. As we were very unlucky with the weather we found it quite cool inside on an evening, despite the heaters and extra blankets. Also we found the double bed uncomfortable, again I appreciate it's difficult with limited space.
Overall a good experience.
Happy Days Retro Vacations - BRILLIANT place to stay with kids!
Best family holiday ever
These beautiful Airstreams are so much more than just cool (though they are very cool indeed)..... They are also: cosy and comfortable - ample sized beds and big fluffy duvets ensured we slept like babies; really well appointed with plenty of lighting and storage and all the kitchen utensils and crockery you could possibly need; gloriously and unapologetically kitsch, decorated with mood enhancing fabrics and delightful retro touches. A pint of milk in the fridge, fresh flowers on the counter top and a batch of homemade cupcakes on our arrival was a generous and very thoughtful welcome. The campsite itself is quiet and friendly with immaculate facilities, in a great location for exploring the Dorset countryside. Jenni and Kevin’s generosity and kindness throughout our week long stay was far beyond anything we have experienced anywhere else; we felt like we were staying with friends.