The women making caravanning cool

Pontins meets Palm Springs at Margate’s Club Jupiter

For most, caravan holidays conjure up memories of rock pooling, rainy day board games and the thrill of locking eyes with a similarly-aged youth at the all-important Saturday night disco. You certainly wouldn’t imagine a pink sequinned disco lounge with the Malibu-cool name ‘Club Jupiter’ – but that’s exactly what awaits at Margate’s Birchington Vale Holiday Park. 

Proving that beige is well and truly out, Club Jupiter is the work of three friends, interior stylist Emma Jane Palin, travel writer Anna Hart, and host of BBC Three renovation show Flat Out Fabulous, Whinnie Williams. The trio met while living on the same street in Margate, but Club Jupiter roared into neon pink life during lockdown. 

“We were looking for new ways to keep busy,” says Emma. “I saw a caravan on Rightmove and texted Whinnie like, ‘we should totally renovate a caravan’. She instantly replied, ‘oh my god, I’ve always wanted to do that’. We got Anna in on it as well, and that’s how it started.”

They quickly purchased their wagon of choice – a 2010 Willerby BK Bluebird – and set to work on the renovations, the style of which they describe as “Pontins meets Palm Springs”.

“Anna and Whinnie went on a trip to America right before lockdown in February 2020,” says Emma. “In America, they very much do the whole themed motel thing, which we hadn’t really seen in the UK. So there are lots of nods to Americana throughout the design, but we’ve put our own twist on it.”

They began with the living room, which is decorated in earthy blues and greens with a panelled ceiling and retro checked floor. They sourced most of the fittings second-hand from Margate’s slew of vintage, charity and junk shops, including an upcycled kitchen sink that Whinnie (almost serendipitously) spotted in a skip. Each then designed her own room, which is where the interiors really run wild. 

Anna – the travel writer – created a jungle room with bamboo ceilings, rattan shelving and vintage handmade trinkets. Whinnie’s work is inspired by cowgirls, complete with pink fringed curtains and cowhide headboard, while Emma’s is an ode to disco design, with sequin fabric draped around the walls and a mirrored ceiling “allowing for the ultimate selfie”.

“Everyone’s looking for new experiences and wants their accommodation to have nice interiors and be a bit different,” says Emma. “We thought it would be fun to combine that with a typically British holiday in a seaside town.”

It’s certainly reimagining the caravan holiday at a moment when they’re on the rise. According to John Lally, Director General of the National Caravan Council (NCC), “caravans – of all types – are experiencing unprecedented demand”. Research by the NCC found that by the end of 2021, sales of new touring caravans had grown by 23.5%, while static holiday caravans had grown by 38% compared to 2020. It’s a similar story on social media. #VanLife has over 8.4 billion views on TikTok and 12.8 million posts on Instagram. But why the sudden interest? For Emma, it’s a sense of freedom you can’t get with other trips.

“I think the growth is due to people wanting to explore their own country and see more of the UK,” she says. “Everyone also seems to have these memories of caravan holidays where they felt very free. When you walk into a caravan park now, it’s like going back in time by 20 years. You don’t get that with other holidays.”

You also don’t get many caravans filled with glitter, neon and cowhide. #vanlife never looked so good. Club Jupiter is available to rent from £140/night. To find out more visit their website or follow them on Instagram @clubjupiteruk

Four stops in Margate

Petticoat Lane Emporium
“A great hall filled with loads of different vendors. You could go in every week and it’d be completely different”

Forts Coffee
“This is our favourite place to get coffee on Cliff Terrace”

Po’ boy the creole fish hut 
“On a Friday night, you can go and get your fish and chips and then you’re right on the beach”

Bottega Caruso
“An amazing little Italian restaurant”