These Luxury RVs Are Reimagining Home on the Road

From infrared saunas to ergonomic workspaces, RV travel is no longer frill-free

Living Vehicle

Courtesy of Living Vehicle

We’re dedicating our August features to architecture and design. After spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, we’ve never been more ready to check into a dreamy new hoteldiscover hidden architectural gems, or hit the road in luxury. Now, we’re excited to celebrate the shapes and structures that make our world beautiful with an inspiring story of how one city is restoring its most sacred monuments, a look at how historic hotels are prioritizing accessibility, an examination of how architecture could be changing the way we travel in cities, and a rundown of the most architecturally significant buildings in every state.

RVing used to be synonymous with retirement and no-frills vacations. But as younger generations look to live, work, and play on the road—all while having access to the creature comforts of home—“land yachts” are getting a luxurious upgrade. Today’s newest recreational vehicles are outfitted with everything from infrared saunas to ergonomic workspaces and fetch anywhere from $135,000 to $2.8 million. Meanwhile, rapidly-growing rental platforms have made even the most extravagant campervans, motorhomes, and travel trailers accessible to the masses.

These days, people are renting and buying RVs for reasons beyond traditional camping trips. Take RV rental marketplace RVshare’s new partnership with Bonnaroo, which allows music festival-goers with Platinum tickets to stay on-site in Rockstar RVs (think Class A coaches with fireplaces, full-sized kitchens, and Bose sound systems) starting at $17,000. While #Vanlife exploded in popularity during the pandemic as more people looked for safe ways to travel locally, 2021 is seeing more first-timers opt to have their rental RVs delivered to bucket-list destinations like the Grand Canyon, eliminating the need even to drive the rig or worry about set up or break down, said RVshare CEO Jon Gray.

For some owners like Heather and Court Fetter, who have been traveling in their upgraded Prevost Millennium conversion since 2018, the desire to avoid flights completely—and travel luxuriously with their dogs—is enough of a draw. With a full-sized bathroom, a freshwater tank that holds 180 gallons, and newly added lithium batteries, they can dry camp for weeks without worrying about running out of resources—or skipping a real shower.

Custom Prevost Marathon Coaches typically sell for between $2.5 to $2.8 million. At that price range, it’s not uncommon for clients to request personalized paint schemes, top-of-the-line appliances, reclining beds, or unique exterior bay storage options like slide trays, wine coolers, and barbecues said Marathon Coach president and owner Steve Schoellhorn. One of the company’s most recent custom coaches was for Justin Bieber. As seen in a recent video by GQ, the singer decked out his home on the road with mood LED lighting, a massive bed, a shower-meets-steam room, sauna, and custom artwork from his friend Joe Termini.

Bieber wasn’t the only celebrity to hop on the Prevost bandwagon. Last December, Mariah Carey road-tripped from Los Angeles to Aspen in a festive-themed bus provided by Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV rental platform. According to Outdoorsy's co-founder and CMO Jen Young, the past year has brought a spike in interest in vehicles with the ability to go off-grid for longer periods of time. This means searching for higher-end options—like this coach available for $1,500 per night—which boasts a Wi-Fi extender, solar panel, cell booster, and lithium battery upgrade.

Courtesy of Airstream

The Rise of the Micro Motorhome

Bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to luxury RVs, though. Consider the compact Italian-made Oasi 540 from Wingamm, set to be the first micro-class RV available stateside when it launches in the U.S. next year. It’s not surprising that TM Motorhomes, the exclusive distribution wing for Wingamm U.S., has already received over 4,000 phone calls and e-mails, along with hundreds of requests to join the waitlist.

“These buyers are very excited to take the leap into #Vanlife, but they were reluctant before finding the Wingamm Oasi 540 because all the other U.S. options meant giving up the luxuries of home,” said TM Motorhomes CEO Tony Diamond. “Many buyers want a compact motorhome that is small enough to be used when they're in a major city, yet has the amenities to live luxuriously while in a national park.”

At less than 18 feet long, the Oasi 540 fits perfectly into the average U.S. parking space but can sleep four people and has a full indoor bathroom—heated floors included—kitchen, dining space, and living room. Unlike most Class B motorhomes with a tent pop-top bed, Wingamm’s custom fiberglass monocoque shell enables a ceiling-recessed bed to be elegantly protracted down when needed.

Small space living need not mean sacrificing style—a philosophy long-championed by “silver bullet” travel trailer-maker Airstream. Its latest model, the Airstream Pottery Barn Special Edition Travel Trailer (starting at $145,000), features all the cozy details you would expect to find in a state-of-the-art home. Furniture and decor inspired by Pottery Barn’s best-selling collections have been integrated into the interior design, featuring custom-made seating, a solid oak dining table, linen window coverings, and beadboard-paneled storage lockers. The kitchen, outfitted with a stainless steel flat apron sink, solid walnut cutting board sink cover, and a matte-black pull-down kitchen faucet, is well-suited to roving chefs.

Courtesy of Terra Firma

An RV Revolution

With little innovation in RV technology over the past 20 years, some companies are looking to address the issues with mass production and strained supply chains. Blending the retro elegance of the 1930s Streamline Moderne design style with smart features like pet-friendly remote temperature monitoring and enhanced air filtration systems, the new Bowlus Terra Firma (starting at $265,000) takes a refreshingly eco-conscious approach to the RV lifestyle. No glue is used in the production, all the interior wood is sustainably sourced, and aircraft-grade rivets are used for strength and longevity.

“We even consider how towing impacts the environment, which is why a Bowlus is easy to tow and easy to handle because it is designed correctly. Incredible handling also means you can access more off-the-beaten-path campsites,” said Geneva Long, Bowlus's founder and CEO.

Living Vehicle, another California-based company, approaches sustainability by limiting production to provide a higher-quality product and customer service. Since launching in 2017, the company has sold out every year. They’ll likely fully sell out of their 2022 Travel Trailer (starting at $249,995) before the end of this year, said co-founder Matthew Hofmann.

Its four models come with 20 option packages divided into sections: Power, Travel, Technology, and Living. Each package was architecturally designed by Hofmann, who lives full-time in one of the brand’s RVs with his wife and co-founder Joanna.

While most of the newest RV models offer makeshift workspaces and improved connectivity for remote working, Living Vehicle’s Mobile Office option takes it to the next level. The front sleeping space converts into a dedicated dual 80-inch-long walnut-desk workstation with sit-stand desk solutions. Some customers have even installed four 4K monitors on the vertical surface in front of the desk, which lowers out of sight in a matter of seconds, Hofmann added.

The couple says they’re now laser-focused on producing a completely net-zero model: no power cord, no gas tanks, no water hoses, no sewer line. “We’re already there with the energy system. We now offer models that are capable of producing more energy than solar installations on most homes,” said Hofmann. “It is my belief that the luxury RV market will act as the catalyst for fully self-sufficient, sustainable living without limitations. People will be able to travel to destinations never before imagined and stay for as long as they like.”

With the RV industry finally being reinvigorated, that future doesn’t seem too far off. For today’s new wave of road warriors, home—and all its comforts—knows no bounds.