Take one chilled out yoga teacher, one sleepy wild flower meadow and a quintet of handcrafted roulottes (gypsy style French wooden caravans) and you have one seriously relaxed escape. This is where Audrey Hepburn would have glamped and owners Avril Berry and Alan Fraser are rightly proud of their caravans of love. Children are a no-no, but many guests actually turn out to be parents looking to put a bit of gypsy romance back into their lives.
The roulottes are not so much rustic as resplendent, reminiscent of a luxury train suite with smooth hardwoods, delicate carvings and lush furnishings. One of Avril’s ancestors was a renowned painter of gypsy caravans and his talents have been passed on with real attention to detail woven into each roulotte. No two are the same. Karlotta is all art deco flourishes, Moorish influences and Celtic imagery, while Devanna takes her cues from India. What they all share in common is that they are all lush, extravagant and seriously sexy.
The roulottes are sprinkled around the lochan in the wildflower meadow, where the two resident geese sometimes wander in to have a swim. Afterwards they stretch out their wings to take in the sun as guests stretch out their own limbs, relaxing on their decks whilst having a barbecue or lounging by the communal campfire. Most people don’t even make it out to explore the famous Borders scenery of rolling hills and snaking rivers that so entranced Scotland’s greatest ever writer, Sir Walter Scott.
Back at the Retreat there is also a cottage, which comes with its own small gypsy caravan, while the four person roulottes – Zenaya and Gitana – also have their own eco hot tubs, hidden away in secret for exclusive bathing under the star-scattered Scottish skies. Roulotte Retreat also has a 1950’s wooden studio with a large covered deck wrapped around a Scots Pine Tree woodland. Its perfect for gatherings, celebrations, weddings or workshops and has consequently seen Avril start to offer regular yoga sessions. So you can do your Cobra, Half Moon pose, or Downward Facing Dog as the sun casts its warm, morning shards through the canopy. Now that's glamping!
FacilitiesCampfires allowed in communal fire pit. Each roulotte has en suite with powerful shower and separate modern toilet, a cooker and wood-burning stove, plus independent heating. Each roulotte has its own retro BBQ for al fresco dining. Avril offers Yoga lessons, either one-to-one or in a group, with prices depending on what you want. Ask about yoga holidays and workshops (art, photography, creative writing, etc). A path snakes around the lochan which is in the centre of the three acre site.
Suitable ForCouples, groups and exclusive use – yes. Caravans, tents, dogs, campervans – no. Children and dogs are welcome in Horseshoe Cottage which comes along with Ruby.
Food & DrinkBreakfast hampers can be organised for you with local produce, just order in advance when you are booking. Burt’s Hotel (01896 822285) in Melrose has a great bistro bar in a historic building with over 90 whiskies. It is also home to an award-winning restaurant serving up the best of Borders produce. The Townhouse (01896 822645) just across the road is run by the same family and offers a brasserie and a restaurant serving Borders lamb, salmon and trout. Marmions Brasserie (01896 822245) in Melrose is an excellent bistro serving delicious food and nearby in St Boswells is the local Buccleuch Arms Hotel (01835 822243) with its own bistro. Or if you are coming as a group then ask about hiring your own chef for the duration of your stay or, for weddings, Avril can organise street food-style trucks and chefs to attend.
Opening TimesAll year. However, access can be tricky if snow is severe, in which case you can park locally and be taken in by four wheel drive vehicle.
The Owner Says
Imagine French chic in the heart of the romantic Scottish Borders countryside, et voila ... Roulotte Retreat - eco, chic, romantique, c’est magnifique! Whether you want to practise the 3 R’s - rest, relax and revitalise, or get in touch with your inner Audrey Hepburn, you are assured of a memorable stay at this hidden gem in the Scottish Borders, unique in UK! Roulotte Retreat is situated in a beautiful three acre meadow nestled below the Eildon Hills just below an ancient Roman site, Campknowe near Melrose. The meadow is greeted in the early morning by the sun to the east and enjoys south facing climate all day before the dazzling sunset to the west in the evening.
The West Burn traverses through the field offering delightful pools en route to its junction with the Bowden Burn and onwards to the River Tweed and the sea. In the middle of the meadow is an enchanting lochan complete with jetty and small shingle beach. The meadow landscape reflects that of the surrounding countryside with mounds of broom, gorse, hawthorn and wild rose. Each roulotte has its own unique space for enjoying some al fresco time situated around the lochan. Wildlife abounds in and around the meadow - hear the hooting of the nightly owls, watch the early morning deer. A family of badgers are known to come out and play at the end of the drive when they think no one is looking. Bird-watching is right on your doorstep from swallows performing their acrobatic skills in and out of the water to herons dropping in for a snack.
What is a Roulotte? Hand crafted Romany style wooden caravan built in France, which are roulottes or in Holland they are often known as woonwagens. Our roulottes are created to bespoke designs modelled on the styles of a bygone era of India and reminiscent of the elegance of the Orient Express. Made of sustainable oak, ash, chestnut, walnut, pine and wild cherry by artisans in France, each of our French roulottes takes two carpenters six months to complete. Each detail has been lovingly crafted to create the authentic romantic ambience of life on wheels. Relaxing in one of our magical roulottes with all modern comforts is the perfect way to experience ‘Glamvanning’. Devanna, our Indian inspired roulotte was the first to arrive in June 2010 and now she has several sisters around the meadow … Karlotta, Gitana, Maharani, Shivanni and Zenaya for two people and Rosa Bella who sleeps four.
Roulotte Retreat, Roulotte Retreat, Bowden, Melrose, The Scottish Borders TD6 0SU
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Rated ★★★★★ over 6 reviews
In our usual style, we were very late booking somewhere for May Bank Holiday, but the Cool Camping email revealed that the Roulotte Retreat had availability and an offer on so we snapped it up. It is absolutely stunning. In 'real life' the site is even more picture perfect than on the website. Our caravan was luxurious in colour and comfort, and the place is utterly restful. Alan and Avril were wonderful hosts and filled us in on local events and places to go - the 'Bogey Race' was a particular highlight!! We hadn't expected the beautiful, hot sunshine we got, but even in less-perfect weather the caravans themselves would be a treat to spend time in. We'd definitely go again.
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