Authentic hand-crafted wooden roulottes in a charming meadow setting
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!
Melrose, Scotland, United KingdomTo respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Roulotte R.Joined in February 2011
From the host
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 wildflower meadow with small lochan and burn, nestled below the Eildon Hills near Melrose.
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. Your roulotte stay can be enhanced by booking a roulotte with an eco hot tub or wood fired eco sauna with panorama window out towards sunset.
The charming Borders market town of Melrose awaits four miles away with its gloriously ruined abbey (01896 822562). This is famously where the seminal Scottish king Robert the Bruce’s heart was buried after it was taken on Crusade. Melrose also offers boutique shops, delis, cafes and riverside walks. If staying in June, be sure to visit the Borders Book Festival. This is Scottish rugby’s heartland so look out for a Melrose RFC (01896 822993) game or the annual Sevens tournament in Spring. On the outskirts of town the former stately home of the legendary 19th century novelist Sir Walter Scott - Abbotsford House (01896 752 043) - has recently benefits from a multi-million pound refurbishment. The audio tours are superb as is the cafe. Between Melrose and Roulotte Retreat the Eildon Hills are ideal for adventurous walks with peaks to hike and trails to explore. The views across the Borders towards the English border are sublime. St Boswells is also a five minute drive away with its cafes and independent shops. The St Cuthbert’s Way, which goes to from Melrose to Lindisfarne, runs right by the site and leads down to the nearby River Tweed. Most of the local towns have what are known as Common Ridings, ancient traditions involving hundreds of riders, usually held from June–August. Rail buffs shouldn’t miss the chance to ride along Scotland’s newest railway line – the reborn 30-mile Borders Railway that links Tweedbank (5 miles from Roulotte Retreat) to Edinburgh Waverley.
Food and drink
Breakfast hampers can be organised for you with local produce, just order in advance when you are booking. Provender in Melrose is one of our faves, 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.