News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping

Sussex Vineyards and Wineries you can stay at

ruth wimpory skoolie stays

By Ruth

Both the Skoolie Stays bus (that bus above is our other one on a California Vineyard by the way) and our East Sussex Eco Cabin ‘The Vacationist’ are firmly in wine country! We provide accommodation close to some great Sussex vineyards and wineries. In this blog post we look at what makes Sussex wine special with a focus on some of the wine estates where you can stay on site, For each one we mention, we also note the closest accommodation we offer whether on the bus or the cabin. Whilst we are not in amongst the vines themselves, we are pretty close to many of them!

Our closest neighbours at the Skoolie, Kinsbrook Vineyard, get a special mention as it’s a lovely walk to their estate from the bus. They come top of the list for our West Sussex selection! Kinsbrook don’t have their own accommodation, but stay on board with us and you can drink like a local when you visit.

Sussex and Wine, a natural partnership

For wine lovers and nature lovers alike, no other English destinations offer what the vineyards of Sussex have. Sussex has emerged as a premier wine region, boasting a flourishing collection of world-class vineyards and wineries. From luxurious wine estate hotels to cosy winery cottages and unique vineyard accommodation experiences, the county offers a diverse array of Sussex winery accommodation options that allow you to immerse yourself in the art of winemaking while basking in the region’s beautiful landscapes. Join us as we embark on a journey through the finest vineyard stays, tours, tastings, and activities that Sussex has to offer, ensuring an unforgettable wine-filled getaway.

Sussex Vineyard Accommodation, East & West

sussex vineyard accommodation

For those seeking the ultimate in indulgence, Sussex is home to several prestigious wine estates. Many offer luxurious accommodations amidst their sprawling vineyards. 


Let’s look at the Sussex  wine menu…

Special focus: Kinsbrook Vineyard, our local wine stars

Kinsbrook Vineyard, which is a lovely walk from the Skoolie Stays bus, offers a rich and immersive experience for visitors, blending traditional winemaking with modern, sustainable practices. Owned and operated by Joe Beckett and Rebecca Dancer, Kinsbrook stands out for its commitment to sustainability and inclusiveness, making it a unique destination in the Sussex wine landscape.


The vineyard produces a complete range of both still and sparkling wines, crafted from grapes grown on its third-generation farmland. Visitors can explore a variety of wines, including the flagship Sparkling White and a new single-variety unoaked Chardonnay. The heart of the vineyard is the Kinsbrook Farmhouse, a traditional Sussex barn that houses a restaurant, grocery, deli, and butchery, all offering panoramic views of the vineyard. This setup not only provides a scenic backdrop for dining and shopping but also emphasizes the vineyard’s focus on local produce and artisanal products.


Beyond wine tasting, Kinsbrook Vineyard offers a range of activities and amenities designed to create a comprehensive vineyard experience. The cellar door welcomes visitors with coffee, cake, and antipasti, in addition to wine. The vineyard also hosts supper clubs, events, and live acoustic music every Sunday in the summer, fostering a laid-back atmosphere that complements the wine experience. This approach to creating an inclusive, sustainable lifestyle culture around wine is indicative of Kinsbrook’s broader mission. Though they don’t offer their own vineyard accommodation, they are really close to a certain luxury converted American School Bus  


1 hour walk from Skoolie Stays, or 5 minute drive

luxury glamping near lewes

Wiston Estate

Wiston Estate, a historic property dating back to the 16th century, is located in the picturesque village of Wiston, near Pulborough. In addition to producing award-winning sparkling wines, the estate offers vineyard accommodation in the newly renovated Pump House, a charming two-bedroom cottage overlooking the vineyards. Guests can indulge in private wine tastings, vineyard tours, and even participate in the annual grape harvest.


If the Wiston cottage is unavailable for your stay or not quite right for your group, the Skoolie is just 10 minutes drive or Taxi from Wiston and its lovely Chalk restaurant. 


10 minute drive or taxi from Skoolie Stays

luxury glamping near lewes

Our other local vineyards

accommodation at vineyards in Sussex

Staying local to our own glamping accommodation, thirsty glampers are spoilt for choice. Head to our Wine Tasting Breaks page and see all our other Local Vineyards  and Wine Estates close to the bus. 

Nutbourne Vineyards

Nutbourne Vineyards, located in Pulborough, West Sussex, is a family-run vineyard that offers a converted 19th-century barn as vineyard accommodation. With panoramic views of the vineyards and surrounding countryside, this charming cottage is the perfect base for exploring the region’s wineries and enjoying the tranquility of rural Sussex.

luxury glamping near lewes

Breaky Bottom Vineyard

Breaky Bottom Vineyard, situated in the village of Rodmell near Lewes, is a hidden gem run by legendary winemaker Peter Hall. While they don’t offer on-site vineyard  accommodation, there are several charming cottages available for rent in the nearby villages, allowing you to experience the serenity of this secluded vineyard during your stay.


30 Minute drive from The Vacationist Cabin

Bolney Wine Estate

For a more traditional yet immersive experience, consider staying at a bed and breakfast located on or near a Sussex vineyard. One such example, and a lovely one too, is in Bolney.


Bolney Wine Estate, located in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, is a renowned producer of award-winning still and sparkling wines. While they don’t have on-site accommodation, there are several charming bed and breakfasts in the surrounding villages, such as the Hickstead Hotel, which offer easy access to the estate’s tours, tastings, and events.


25 minute drive from Skoolie Stays

Ridgeview Wine Estate

Ridgeview Wine Estate, situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park, is a family-owned winery known for its exceptional sparkling wines. While they don’t offer on-site accommodation near the vineyards, there are several  bed and breakfasts in the nearby villages of Ditchling and Hurstpierpoint, providing the perfect base for exploring this renowned estate. It’s also a short drive from our own cabin glamping accommodation. 


A 28 minute drive from The Vacationist

Wine Estates with vineyard accommodation

For those seeking a more adventurous and unique experience, Sussex offers several vineyards that offer vineyard accommodation, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region.

Bluebell Vineyard Estates

Bluebell Vineyard Estates, located in Uckfield, East Sussex, is a family-run vineyard that offers a unique glamping experience in a vintage Airstream trailer. Surrounded by the vines and with access to the estate’s tasting room and events, this is a truly one-of-a-kind way to experience Sussex’s wine country.


A 20 minute drive from The Vacationist 

Vineyard Tours and Tastings

No vineyard getaway would be complete without indulging in the region’s exceptional wines through tours and tastings. Many of the accommodations mentioned above offer exclusive tours and tastings for guests, but there are also numerous standalone experiences to consider.


Here are some great options…

Albourne Estate Vineyard Tours

Albourne Estate, located in the heart of the Sussex Downs, is a family-run vineyard that offers a variety of tours and tastings. From guided vineyard walks to tutored tastings in their charming tasting room, Albourne provides a warm and welcoming introduction to the region’s wines.


A 25 minute drive from The Skoolie Stays Bus

Special focus: Tinwood Estate Vineyard, A Glamping Adventure in the Vines

For those seeking a more adventurous and unique vineyard accommodation experience, Tinwood Estate Vineyard in the heart of the Sussex Weald offers a truly one-of-a-kind glamping adventure amidst the vines. Nestled in the rolling hills of the Weald, Tinwood Estate Vineyard is a family-run operation that has been producing award-winning wines since 2007. While the vineyard itself is a sight to behold, with its meticulously tended vines and picturesque surroundings, it’s the estate’s glamping accommodations that truly set it apart. Tinwood offers a range of glamping options, each designed to provide a comfortable and luxurious experience while allowing guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the vineyard. 


From cosy shepherd’s huts to spacious bell tents, each accommodation is thoughtfully appointed with all the amenities you need for a memorable stay. The shepherd’s huts, in particular, are a true delight. These charming, compact dwellings are outfitted with comfortable beds, seating areas, and even small kitchenettes, ensuring that you have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Step outside, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the lush vineyards, with the gentle slopes and rolling hills providing a stunning backdrop. For those seeking a more spacious and luxurious glamping experience, Tinwood’s bell tents are sure to impress. These spacious canvas dwellings are outfitted with plush bedding, comfortable furnishings, and even private outdoor seating areas, perfect for enjoying a glass of Tinwood’s finest while taking in the vineyard views. But the true magic of a stay at Tinwood Estate Vineyard lies in the experiences and activities on offer. 


As a guest, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in private vineyard tours and tastings, guided by the estate’s knowledgeable staff. Learn about the winemaking process, from the careful tending of the vines to the intricate art of blending and aging the wines.During your stay, you can also immerse yourself in the annual grape harvest, a truly unique and hands-on experience. Work alongside the vineyard team as they carefully hand-pick the ripe grapes, learning about the nuances of each varietal and the importance of timing in the winemaking process. Beyond the vineyards, Tinwood Estate Vineyard offers a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy. Take a leisurely stroll along the estate’s walking trails, or venture further afield and explore the stunning Sussex countryside. The nearby villages and towns offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region, with charming pubs, quaint shops, and historic landmarks to discover.


For those seeking a truly unique and unforgettable vineyard experience, Tinwood Estate Vineyard’s glamping adventure is a must. With its luxurious accommodation close to the vineyards themselves, exceptional wines, and immersive experiences, this hidden gem in the heart of the Sussex Weald promises to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or simply seeking a unique and adventurous getaway, a stay at Tinwood Estate Vineyard is sure to delight and inspire. So pack your bags, uncork a bottle of their finest, and prepare to embark on a glamping adventure like no other, surrounded by the beauty of the Sussex vineyards.


A 30 minute drive from The Skoolie 

where to stay vineyards in Sussex

Nyetimber Vineyard Tours

Nyetimber, widely regarded as one of England’s top sparkling wine producers, offers a range of tours and tastings at their West Chiltington estate. From open day tours to private tastings in their 15th-century Medieval Barn, Nyetimber provides a truly immersive experience into the world of English sparkling wine.

10 minutes from The Skoolie

Additional wine related Activities and Experiences

While wine tasting and vineyard tours are undoubtedly the main attractions, Sussex offers a wealth of additional activities and experiences to complement your vineyard getaway.

Vineyard Picnics and Dining Experiences

Many of the region’s vineyards offer picnic baskets or al fresco dining experiences, allowing you to savor local produce and wines while taking in the stunning vineyard views. Bolney Wine Estate’s Eighteen Acre Café, with its viewing balcony overlooking the vines, is a must-visit for a leisurely lunch or afternoon tea.

Countryside Walks and Cycling

The rolling hills and picturesque villages of Sussex provide the perfect backdrop for countryside walks and cycling adventures. Many vineyards offer self-guided walking trails or can recommend scenic routes through the surrounding areas.

Coastal Explorations

With its proximity to the English Channel, Sussex offers easy access to charming coastal towns and beaches. Spend a day exploring the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs, the vibrant city of Brighton, or the historic town of Rye, all within a short drive from many of the region’s vineyards. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious wine estate stay, a cozy vineyard cottage rental, or a unique glamping experience, Sussex’s wineries offer a diverse range of vineyard accommodations to suit every taste and budget. With exceptional wines, stunning landscapes, and a wealth of activities and experiences, a vineyard stay in Sussex promises to be a truly unforgettable adventure for wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Special focus: Rathfinny Wine Estate: A Luxurious Vineyard Retreat

Nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park, Rathfinny Wine Estate is a breathtaking 600-acre property that offers a truly indulgent vineyard escape. With its award-winning wines, exceptional vineyard accommodation options, and stunning natural surroundings, Rathfinny is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a luxurious wine estate stay in Sussex.


The estate’s accommodation options are second to none, catering to both those seeking a traditional bed and breakfast experience and those desiring the privacy of a self-catered cottage. The Flint Barns B&B, housed in beautifully restored farm buildings, features 10 en-suite bedrooms with rustic charm and panoramic vineyard views. Each room is designed with its own unique character, ensuring a cosy and inviting atmosphere. For those seeking a more private and indulgent experience, the newly opened Rathfinny Cottage is a true gem. This self-catering haven can accommodate up to four guests and three dogs, making it perfect for a family or group of friends. Wake up to breathtaking vistas of the vines, enjoy a private courtyard for alfresco dining, and take advantage of the estate’s restaurants and vineyard tours during your stay.


Speaking of dining, Rathfinny offers a range of culinary experiences that are sure to delight even the most discerning palates. The estate’s restaurants showcase the best of local and seasonal produce, expertly paired with their award-winning Sussex sparkling wines. From casual al fresco dining to fine dining experiences, there is something to suit every occasion and taste. Of course, no visit to Rathfinny would be complete without indulging in their exceptional wines. The estate offers a range of tours and tastings, led by knowledgeable guides who will take you on a journey through the winemaking process. From the vineyards to the winery, you’ll gain a deep appreciation for the art and science behind each bottle of Rathfinny’s Sussex sparkling wine.


Beyond the vineyards and winery, Rathfinny offers a wealth of outdoor activities and experiences to enjoy. Take a leisurely stroll along the estate’s walking trails, or venture further afield and explore the stunning South Downs National Park. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, the nearby Cuckmere Haven and Seaford beach offer opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and even stand-up paddleboarding. With its luxurious accommodations, exceptional wines, world-class dining, and stunning natural surroundings, Rathfinny Wine Estate is the epitome of a Sussex vineyard escape. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or simply a chance to indulge in the finer things in life, Rathfinny promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing to return time and time again.


A 25 minute drive from The Vacationist Cabin

where to stay sussex wine

East or West, Sussex wines are best!

In conclusion, Sussex’s vineyard accommodation offering is truly exceptional and there is a diverse range of options, catering to every taste and preference. From luxurious wine estate stays to cozy cottage rentals and unique glamping experiences, this picturesque region promises to delight and inspire wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. So why wait? Start planning your ultimate Sussex vineyard escape today and prepare to be swept away by the beauty, flavors, and unforgettable experiences that await.

News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping

Why Glamping Stays on Converted Buses and Vehicles Make the Best Outdoor Short Breaks

ruth wimpory skoolie stays

By Ruth

In this blog, we explore the glamping niche that Skoolie Stays inhabits. You’ll probably realise we are not the only converted bus or vehicle that you can while away few days in in the great British countryside! Look around and you will find double decker buses, old coaches, helicopters, and all sorts of wheeled trailers upon which glamourous cabins have been built. You may even stumble across a car with hot tub built into it. So cool.

We are pleased to be leading the way with the American School bus fleet that has popped up in the UK and offer short breaks and glamping stays in these iconic vehicles. Johnny Vegas’s Field of dreams glamping project and TV programme has opened eyes to some of the possibilities of boutique bus and vehicles getaways. Certainly that coverage has piqued interest in those who like their short breaks to be on the quirky side

Go glamping on a bus to find WOW moments!

But what makes staying in a bus so special? We know the ‘wow moment’ of seeing the inside of our beautifully converted ‘Skoolie’ is a clue to the joy that bus glamping brings. It looks like a bus from the outside, but step inside: WOW! Here the story begins and it is another genuinely important part of the experience for our guests. Every vehicle has this, I think. Be it a double decker, an American School Bus, or an old Leyland Coach, you know straight away that there’s a story.  This definitely adds some meaning to your choice of accommodation. As guests you become a part of the story, you are the latest chapter in the life of that bus or vehicle. And it’s an unusual one of course.


Our own School Bus started its life ferrying kids around Florida, then some adventurous Brits who had lived in a school bus for a year in the States bought it and shipped it across the Atlantic. They converted it and opened it for glamping experiences in the beautiful South Downs in Sussex. It first lived in Firle in East Sussex, then up on the cliffs of Beachy Head, and now its nestled amongst the oaks in lovely West Sussex.

In this blog we explore some of the best things about staying in a converted bus in a British field and look at what you might expect from the experience.  

The Quirky Appeal of staying on a Bus, Coach or another crazy vehicle

best buses glamping magazine

One of the most alluring aspects of glamping in converted buses and vehicles is the sheer quirkiness and novelty factor. In a world where cookie-cutter accommodations are a dime-a-dozen, (to use an appropriate Americanism!) these unique retreats offer a refreshing change of pace. From the moment you lay eyes on your quirky abode, whether it’s a bright red double-decker bus or a sleek, repurposed helicopter, you know you’re in for an experience like no other.


This sense of whimsy and playfulness is precisely what draws many travellers to bus glamping. It’s a chance to embrace your inner child, to let go of the mundane, and to immerse yourself in a world where imagination and creativity are firmly in charge. Whether you’re a free-spirited adventurer or simply someone seeking a break from the ordinary, these unconventional accommodations promise to ignite a sense of wonder and excitement that’s often lost in our fast-paced, modern lives. Indeed a desire to ‘getaway from the normal’ is something we hear from our guests a lot. They know that’s exactly what’s awaiting them. Perhaps a Shepherd’s Hut or Yurt just doesn’t deliver in the same way

Converting vehicles for glamping: The Art of Transformation

Behind every converted bus or vehicle lies a remarkable story of transformation. What was once a utilitarian mode of transportation has been lovingly reimagined and repurposed into a cozy, luxurious retreat. This transformation is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the designers and craftspeople who breathe new life into these vehicles. Ahem.


Step inside one of these converted gems, and you’ll be amazed by the attention to detail and the thoughtful design elements that have been incorporated. You’ll see this in the clever use of space and storage solutions to the carefully curated decor and furnishings. As on our bus, so often every aspect has been meticulously considered to ensure a comfortable and stylish living experience.


But the true magic lies in the juxtaposition of the old and the new. The exterior of the vehicle may retain its rugged, industrial charm, but the interior is a world unto itself – a cozy oasis of modern comforts and luxuries. This contrast between the past and the present adds an extra layer of intrigue and character to your stay, making it a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

stay in a converted bus

First Stop: Connecting with Nature on your glamping bus holiday

stay on bus in sussex countryside

One of the greatest joys of glamping on converted buses and vehicles is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the great outdoors while still enjoying the comforts of home. These unique vehicles are often situated in idyllic rural settings, surrounded by rolling hills, lush meadows, or tranquil woodlands.


Imagine waking up to a gentle breezie in the trees and gentle birdsong stepping outside your cosy bus or vehicle to breathe in the fresh, crisp air. Whether you choose to spend your days hiking on hills (like our own South Downs National Park) , picnicking, or simply lounging in the great outdoors with a good book, the natural beauty that surrounds you is sure to help you relax and achieve the ‘getting away from it’ you need.


Many of these glamping sites also offer additional outdoor amenities, such as fire pits, hot tubs, or even private lakes or ponds, allowing you to fully embrace the great outdoors while still indulging in a touch of luxury. Our very own firepit area and log burner are big hits for our guests on the Skoolie. 

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly bus conversions for glamping

In an age where environmental consciousness is becoming increasingly important, glamping on converted buses and vehicles offers a unique opportunity to embrace sustainable and eco-friendly travel practices. By repurposing and breathing new life into these vehicles, we’re not only reducing waste but also celebrating the principles of upcycling and creative reuse.


Many of the companies and individuals behind these converted accommodations prioritize sustainable practices, from using eco-friendly building materials and energy-efficient appliances to implementing water conservation measures and promoting responsible waste management. By choosing to stay in these unique retreats, you’re not only supporting a more sustainable tourism industry but also minimizing your environmental footprint while still enjoying the comforts of a luxurious getaway.

Converted vehicles as tiny homes make for unforgettable experiences

go glamping on converted bus with kids

Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose a glamping stay on a converted bus or vehicle is the promise of unforgettable experiences.


Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or a solo escape, these unconventional holiday rentals offer a chance to create lasting memories and forge connections with loved ones or with yourself. Every moment, from the cozy evenings spent curled up by the fire to the awe-inspiring sunrises witnessed from your unique vantage point, will be etched into your memory, creating unforgettable experiences that will stay with you long after your journey ends.


If you’re looking for a distinctive and memorable outdoor getaway, glamping on a converted bus such as the Skoolie or any pf the other amazing options out there is an excellent choice. Embrace the quirky charm and cosy comforts these unique places  offer, allowing you to write your own part of their story, and find your own ‘wow moments’.

stay on an american school bus
News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping Uncategorized

bus glamping press reviews

Skoolie Stays in the Press

From the UK to the USA – what the papers have to say

Typing in a skoolie

By Ruth

Skoolie Stays has featured in local and national press, she’s appeared on television and in a book…  So what do the media make of Skoolie Stays? 

cabin glamping and Skoolie The Times newspaper

Child of Skoolie Stays:
The Vacationist

This article in The Times was focussed on our Vacationist Cabin amongst other select cabins built by their owners. The Skoolie was referenced though with a nod to the venerable yellow glamping bus being the genesis to our glamping business. Check it out! If the paywall gets in the way, here’s some pics of us on the front cover no less! 


The Times – How to Build an Off-Grid Cabin

Love Property loves American School Buses

When Love Property magazine noticed the beauty of converted American School Buses whether for glamping or as tiny homes, they quickly bumped into us. 


See their article here about Amazing Converted School Buses with us smack bang in the middle!



american school bus glamping press reviews

Quirky Weddings Magazine: What's love without a little rebellion?

Quirky Weddings Magazine featured us on a 4-page spread in their magazine and online . It was part of a collaboration with Eastbourne based photographer @thornandfound and make up artist / concept planner @makeupbychelsey_. We had SO MUCH fun staging the rock ‘n’ roll photo shoot on the bus. It was the perfect setting and the team were fantastic. 

Wild Escapes: Incredible Places to Unwind and Explore (National Trust)

Wild Escapes

The National Trust contacted us a year about a possible stay for their author Sian Anna Lewis, who was documenting Wild Escapes in the UK. We were thrilled to be considered and hosted her in early 2022 at our site in Beachy Head.


Of course the eagle-eyed will spot that it talks about our site at Beachy Head. Sian’s Wild Escape took place before we had the news that Black Robin Farm, our site, was to undergo works as part of the Council’s Level Up Funding project. The South Downs National Park could no longer let us stay at our spot and so we moved to Little Thakeham Farm.


But although some of the suggestions about pubs and hikes may not be relevant, the bus is after all a bus – it has many stops. Little Thakeham is just as wild a destination (and it’s a lot less windy!) so we think our guests will find it just the place to unwind and explore. 


Order your copy here!

Call of the Wild: Guardian / Observer

Guardian observer article Skoolie Stays
"Surprisingly chic and spacious"

Sian Anne Lewis, an award-winning travel-writer and blogger visited the Skoolie Stays bus at our site in Beachy Head so that she could write about the best UK wild escapes for a National Trust book. 


In preparation for the book launch, 10 of the best of the 40 escapes mentioned in the book, appeared in the Guardian and Observer on 7th May 2023. There was the Skoolie, in at number 2. 


She declared the Skoolie as a “big yellow home-from-home” whilst the photographer, the fantastic Annapurna Mellor, told us privately that they had both “loved (their stay) and it’s a really unique addition to the book.


Across the Pond: Florida Patch, Manatee School District and ABC Action News

We got in touch with the school district that had originally been home for the Skoolie Stays bus. They were so excited to hear from us. 


We worked with Melissa, the Communications Specialist at Manatee District Schools, to provide our side of the Skoolie story and then her team created an incredible film showcasing the reactions to the story of bus #25’s English retirement.  It was shown at their School District meeting, which went out to six thousand of their employees. You can read more about that on our blog


The story also led to coverage in The Patch, which goes out across Florida, and the ABC Action News.


10 Wild New Stays in Britain: Telegraph

Times article - meet the owners
"Original stays with the wow factor"​

We were interviewed by Laura Fowler for the Telegraph Travel Section. She wanted to talk to ‘glamping entrepreneurs who gave up their day jobs to create original stays with the wow factor. 


Laura was really interested in our idea of sharing the off-grid lifestyle that we had enjoyed in America through Skoolie Stays. 

Fire pits and frosty walks’: readers’ top UK winter cabin and glamping stays: Guardian

The Guardian article Skoolie Stays
"A tiny quirky home"​

This was a reader’s tip that made it into the Guardian top tip pages!

Tiana Wilson's Converted School Bus Tiny House Tour (Off Grid)

Teen you-tube star Tiana Wilson decided to book a weekend in the bus to create some content for her numerous channels. She created a couple of different videos for her 5.29m subscribers – a “haunted bus” series and also a tour of the bus.  We had no idea Tiana was staying, so had quite the surprise when the bus popped up as her film set!

itravel: Autumn Glamping Adventures

The itravel article Skoolie Stays
"All American quirky comfort in an altogether more English setting"​

We didn’t even realise we had featured in this until a family friend sent us the itravel article!  Here we are though, second in the list of places to hunker down for a cosy UK break. 

The Argus: Couple's Skoolie Stays Glamping Business Comes to Eastbourne

Argus online
Everywhere you turn there is something creative and interesting "​

The Argus interviewed us to find out more about our trip and how it inspired us to ship over the Skoolie Stays bus. 

Eastbourne Herald: A Look Inside the American School Bus

Easbourne Herald
"This eco-friendly self-catering accommodation boasts solar panels and renewable energy "​

The Eastbourne Herald ran a series of features on us when we moved to Beachy Head. A yellow American school bus was not a common sight and locals were evidently curious as to exactly what was inside that bus!

The Great Sussex Way - flying the local flag

visit chichester bus accommodation skoolie
"Right from the bus there are walks through the woods to a lovely village pub, The White Lion, in Thakeham, as well as wineries such as Kinsbrook Vineyard."​

It’s not just press where we feature, and we like to give a nod to those all-important listing sites who champion us and send guests our way. Skoolie Stays has a new listing on The Great Sussex Way since May ’24. 


The Great Sussex Way informs visitors of the best of West Sussex in the Chichester region where we are also homed. Visit them to find out what else you can do when you stay on the bus, or just want to find the best pub gardens in West Sussex perhaps! 

News Skoolie Stays

When Skoolie Stays was a school bus

Back to School

Everything repurposed has a past life and our Skoolie is no exception

Typing in a skoolie

By Ruth

We began our Skoolie Stays journey at the start of 2021, but that wasn’t the beginning for our big yellow American school bus. As the layers of paint were scrubbed off the exterior, we discovered the key to her past. 


Little did we know that the reveal of three words – Manatee District Schools – would go on to unlock such a delightful story. 

The school bus that became Skoolie Stays

Unlocking the secrets of Skoolie Stays past

We knew the Skoolie Stays bus had come from somewhere in Florida but it wasn’t until we started converting her that we found out the clues that led us to her past: a ticket stub behind the panelling, a number 25 hidden on the roof and the word “Manatee” hidden under a black splodge of paint.


I tweeted Manatee District Schools to share my discovery. I didn’t know what to expect by way of reply. They have hundreds of buses, so would they really care about a former member of their fleet?


Yes they would! This wasn’t just any bus – it was bus #25! They were absolutely blown away by my story and straight away they wanted to do something fun to reveal the transformation to the transportation department who had worked on and in her for so many years. 


We worked with Melissa, the Communications Specialist, to provide our side of the story and then her team created an incredible film showcasing the reactions to the story of bus #25’s English retirement.  


Celebrating a "lovely retirement"

Connecting with a team who loved her as much as we do

Melissa, our contact at Manatee District Schools, confirmed that our bus went to auction in 2020, having driven children from Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School to their home and vice versa.  It used to travel along the roadways of U.S. 301 and 41 in Bradenton as part of the Manatee County School Bus fleet. 

Melissa’s team revealed the interior transformation of the bus to her transportation department, without telling them the story.  Perhaps they might like to take a holiday there? “Yes“, they all said. “It’s beautiful”, “It’s amazing“, “Is it a cabin?”.


“No. It’s bus no#25”.

The shock was clear on their faces. 

Linda Agresta, Transportation Liason, finds out the beautiful cabin she is looking at is actually one of her old fleet

Two of Manatee County’s longtime bus drivers who have driven buses there for more than 50 years combined,  are pictured above in the schools district garage, where bus #25 was serviced for maintenance.  They remember driving the bus, “I never thought that all of this could fit into a school bus…. How did they have more room than the children?!”



Mike Vickers, a mechanic for Manatee Schools, could clearly remember working on the bus. “I have worked on this bus, been in it…. oh my gosh, that is beautiful!”.  He was so impressed he’s even thinking of converting one for himself so he can travel with his wife!


Good news moment

Melissa shared the story at the Manatee Schools Board Meeting as a “Good News” feature. The meeting went out on live stream to 6000+ employees and it was amazing to watch it from our home alongside them all. They have also shared the story and video on their site.  

News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping

Reduce, re-use and recycle

Reduce, reuse and recycle

How we turned trash into treasure, taking a bus off the roads and turning it into a sustainable glamping destination.

Typing in a skoolie

By Ruth

The Skoolie Stays bus is regularly recognised as a unique place to stay, but the initial focus is usually on its iconic exterior. Dig a little deeper and you will find that there is more to take away from a weekend in the Skoolie Stays bus than a photograph of your other half in the driver’s seat!



As an off-grid tiny home, we do our best to educate our guests about a lifestyle with the three R’s at its core: reduce, re-use, recycle. When they leave, they take home an understanding that going green is not a compromise, it’s a positive lifestyle choice.

Waste not, want not

A very different retirement

Chicken buses central america
Blinged out with a new paint job, lights and stereos, ‘chicken buses’, as travellers and locals call them, speed down the streets packing in as many people as possible on their routes

When you think about environmentally-friendly glamping units, you probably have in mind a wooden ‘eco’ pod or a simple yurt, but the battle to save the planet does not stop with the use of less impactful materials. We need to look at how we can re-use our waste, taking something no longer deemed useful and bringing it back to life. We need to work with the old instead of buying new.  


After approximately 10-12 years, the majority of American school buses are retired from service. This is partly because they do not meet the tight standards set by the EPA on emissions. Rather than scrap them, they are auctioned off or sold by dealers, which seems like great news until you realise that the vast majority reappear in Central or South America as public transport.  With less stringent rules on pollutants,  the diesel flows. the engines are pushed hard and the emissions statistics get higher and higher. Possibly 850,000 miles or more are squeezed out of these million mile engines if they head over that southern US border. 



It’s a different story for our Skoolie. Instead of glitz in Guatemala, honking in Honduras, chaos in Costa Rica or pollution in Panama, we sit sedately in Sussex. We don’t drive it on the roads, apart from the occasional garage trip, so there’s no speeding from A to B. Quite the opposite – we encourage people to slow down their busy lives to a stop. Crucially, we don’t damage the environment we exist in. Instead, we encourage people to enjoy the beautiful South Downs National Park, with its protected ecology and landscape, and educate them about off-grid living. We are also working hard to offset the emissions created by its journey to the UK, supporting rewilding projects and beach / cliff clean-ups. 

Off-grid living​

Addressing the impact of water, waste and power​

Solar powered glamping bus
Being off grid is a great way to reduce carbon emissions.

From the start of our build, we knew we wanted the Skoolie to be off grid. using renewable energy and minimising the amount of water required, not only helps the planet, it saves money and allows us the freedom to quietly exist in rural locations with no access to infrastructure. 



Solar power is an energy efficient option for off-grid homes, with little waste. We installed six panels, each on a hinge so they can be angled to make the most of the low winter sun. An onboard inverter manages the solar energy, ensuring the batteries stay full, so we have plenty of power for lights, the fridge  and several USB charge points on the bus for phones, laptops etc. 


To reduce our water intake, we focused on where most water is wasted: the bathroom. Along with a lo-flow eco shower, we invested in a top-of-the-range compost loo. Years of horrible festival long-drop toilets have given compost toilets a bad reputation for being smelly and dirty, but having lived with a modern one in America for a year,  we know that this is not the case anymore. Waterless toilets massively reduce water consumption and reduce waste and our Simploo toilet is sleek and stylish, with an inbuilt fan that ensures no bad smells.

Infographic about compost toilets

Environmental inspiration

Looking toward nature to find design solutions

Wooden design
Repurposing old doors and furniture allowed us to create stunning wooden design details

Wherever we could, we chose eco products to help extend the bus’ life and keep her warm and cosy inside. This wasn’t a compromise – many of the alternatives are better than their chemical and manmade rivals. Nature does, after all, know best.


Lanoguard, a sheep’s wool derived rust protector, was sprayed on the underbelly to prevent rust and we used Cumbrian sheep’s wool insulation to insulate the walls and ceiling. For a few days it did indeed smell like a farmyard!


FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) wood was used throughout, with pine cladding on the ceiling and sustainable ply planks on the walls. Hardwood pallets were planed back so they could be used as framing for the roof hatches and old American oak doors, donated from a period renovation, were dismantled and planed down to make a feature wall. We found a home for a water-damaged teak futon, which was taken apart and brought back to life as a sliding barn door for the bathroom.



At the end of the project, we even took the OSB board we had used as a cutting table and chopped it into shelves, held up by a chunky bit of driftwood we found on the beach.

Out with the old…. repurpose it as new

Not fit for purpose is different to not fit for use

penny kitchen countertop
An old jar of pennies added copper tones to our epoxy kitchen counter

We wanted to reuse as much as we could, both from the original bus but also repurpose items that others had deemed to be at the end of their life.


With plenty of bus seats at our disposal, it made sense to repurpose a couple and use them to create a dining area. Each seat was cut down to 2/3 its original size, then welded together to form that classic curve. We reupholstered them in vinyl to create our own American-diner. The look was finished off with a recycled school desk from Hove Park School from the Wood Recycling Store, held up by a hydraulic strut that started life as part of the disabled chair leg.

converted bus accommodation sussex
A genuine old-school desk propped up with the hydraulic ram from the original chair lift

The rear-view mirror became part of a feature wall and an old filing cabinet and kitchen splashback were spruced up to add a metallic dimension to our entrance steps. The wood, mentioned above, and copper tones of the epoxy penny countertop, give it a warm and natural feel.


Scouring through other people’s trash produced bus treasure which came with fascinating stories. Our perfectly-sized Scandi leather sofa belonged to a local man who would chill out and relax on it as the tunes played from his fabulous Wurlitzer. Our retro leather pouffe came from a lady who was thrilled to find out that her beloved footstool (which didn’t fit her house) was going to move to a Skoolie. She was so inspired by our Skoolie that she went on to become one of our first bookings!


If you would like to book a stay on our Skoolie Stays bus to find out  more about our off-grid initiatives and eco-credentials, get in touch!

News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping

Top 5 unique glamping stays

Top 5 unique glamping stays

Glamping is booming and the UK has some of the best opportunities for a rural escape in the quirkiest of accommodation

Typing in a skoolie

By Ruth

Glamping continues to be a booming industry. And it’s not just the effect of the pandemic. More and more people are discovering the joys of exploring the great outdoors without needing to compromise on accommodation. People no longer need to carry bag-loads of equipment and sleep in a damp tent on a roll mat to experience nature and outdoor adventure. You can escape to the middle of nowhere, sleep under the stars and wake up cosy in your bed. At the same time, you can toast marshmallows, stomp about in wellies and spot deer wandering at dusk. Glamping is the best of both worlds and it is here to stay.  


As the industry becomes more popular, the number of glamping opportunities continues to increase. But while some listings showcase creativity and incredible engineering, others simply show a budget makeover of a garden shed. So where do you start if you want to book a special weekend away? How do you find the best of the boltholes? The most iconic?


Let us give you some help….


Iconic and unusual accommodation: our top 5 glamping breaks

Skoolie Stays

Summer days at the Skoolie

Well yes, we know Skoolie Stays is ours but given our customer feedback we feel wholly justified in saying that our converted American school bus ticks all the boxes for a unique break. 


Based on the cliffs at Beachy Head in the South Downs National Park, we have both a beautiful and private location.  The bus itself has been beautifully converted – a labour of love – with eye-catching design, original features and sustainable materials. It sleeps 4 in a king-size bed and two bunks and has a full kitchen and bathroom.  Guests have been blown away by the attention to detail and the clever use of space – and all this in an American school bus. That’s a pretty iconic base for your holiday!


Up in the trees

Living room treehouse

Our next favourite place to stay after American school buses, is treehouses. These homes in the canopy remain the most popular of glamping units across the UK. Many of them are just built on low stilts in woodland, but the Living Room Treehouses really do take you into the trees. 


Just like the Skoolie Stays bus, each treehouse sleeps 2-4 and is completely off-grid with a lovely log burner in the living area and an outdoor terrace. It’s location is amazing too, with incredible walks nearby. And, just like the bus, it is great fun for kids but blissful for two!

Swinging in the breeze

Tree pod

Sticking with life in the trees, the Lost Meadow tree pod doesn’t just offer you the canopy, it appears to suspend you from it! It’s a little bit more basic than the treehouse, but that iconic shape makes it pretty special. 


It sleeps 2, so perfect for romantic breaks, and is the ideal place to watch wildlife on the woodland floor. 

Back to nature


The tree-pod embraced the sphere and so does our next glamping choice –  the Earth Conker.  Again, it is off-grid and expertly engineered for comfort. Many of you will recongise it as it was featured on George Clarke’s ‘Amazing Spaces’. 


As with the Skoolie, stays here are geared towards shutting off from technology and enjoying the surrounding nature. If you can’t quite relax without keeping your phone on charge, or you want to listen to some tunes, there are electric points, a Bluetooth soundbar and lighting to set the perfect mood.  

Back to the future

UFO camping

Our last choice takes you away from nature and into the future. If you thought the tree pod was other-worldly, try the spaceship at Apple camping. Inspired by the Futuro houses of the 1960’s, the owners have styled the glamping pod to feel like something from the future. 


Unlike the Skoolie, it is on a campsite, so you are not completely on your own.  That may not worry you though. After all, when you switch on the smoke machine so that you can recreate the full lunar landing experience, you want an awe-struck audience!

News Skoolie Stays

From Firle to Beachy Head

From Firle to Beachy Head

After an incredible first season, it was time for the Skoolie to hit the road again

Last week we moved the Skoolie to our new location at Beachy Head. The sun was out and the drive over Seven Sisters, past the silvery swirls of the Cuckmere river, was stunning. As we drove through small villages, cars honked us and people waved, thrilled by the sight of an American yellow school bus on their road. We felt pretty happy. Our last Firle guest had given us a 5 star review, continuing our run of lovely feedback from guests,  and a news alert had popped up to tell us that not only had we featured in the i newspaper as an autumn break, we were in the Guardian travel tips for winter glamping too.  Not bad for a first season!



But what comes next?

All the fun at Firle

A fantastic first season on the farm

Skoolie with sheep
Life on Firle's busy farms was always interesting

We moved to Firle Estate, near Lewes, in June. They were keen to try glamping and we were more than happy to move into their beautiful spot (all 7000 acres of it) that spans the South Downs. We got some strange looks as we turned down the tiny lanes in our enormous yellow bus, but we are used to turning heads on the road – everywhere we go, people stop and stare!


We were given access to three locations across Firle and guests had access to some incredible rural locations, gorgeous sunsets and delightful walks across the Estate to reach the array of pubs, tea-rooms and farm shops that were on offer.  The glowing reviews suggest they loved it!

Moving on to something new


So why have we left? Well, all good things must come to an end. Our agreement with Firle was created so that we could offer off-grid camping on unused farmland. But no corner of a farm has empty space for long. Sheep had to be moved to different fields, rams separated, crops cut, seeds sown and shooting traps set. As our booking calendar became increasingly busy, it became a complicated process trying to work out where and when we could move.  


We made the decision to try and find a new location. We wanted one that offered us the same level of access to the stunning South Downs, with some equally great eateries and activities on our doorstep, but that also felt off-grid. We also wanted to increase our outdoors offering to guests. At Firle we had to be mindful of crops and farm buildings . For our new location, we wanted space for kids to run around and adults to set up hammocks or sit around a firepit to toast marshmallows.  

Bringing an iconic vehicle to an iconic location

where to stay near beachy head

As soon as Visit Eastbourne showed us Black Robin Farm, we could see the potential. Our own field with views of the sea, less than a mile from the stunning white cliffs of Beachy Head and the South Downs Way, within walking distance of Eastbourne’s amenities.  It was perfect. 


The Visit Eastbourne team were just as excited about the idea of moving the Skoolie as us. For them, our tiny home offered tourists and residents an opportunity for high-end glamping at one of their most visited tourist destinations. It also fit their vision of an environmentally-conscious glamping solution, it’s solar panels and sheep’s wool insulation making it a year-round option for those who like to escape without abandoning all the comforts of home . Besides, they had fallen in love with the epoxy countertop and the big bug-eye mirrors by then!  


We are already live on the Visit Eastbourne site and will soon be coming out in their accommodation brochure for 2022.  

From one location to....almost nowhere

Skoolie tow
The Skoolie makes a graceful exit from the muddy field

The day came for the big move and we turned on the engine. As the revs turned over, we surveyed the first obstacle – getting out of the field. Firle had received an obscene amount of rain over the past few weeks and our spot, at the bottom corner of a field, had been getting boggier and boggier. Normally, wellies suffice to get you through a muddy field, but you can’t put those on a 14-ton vehicle.  


As soon as we tried to manoeuvre out of the field, we found our wheels spinning. Disaster. Or it could have been. Luckily for us, the farmer is lovely and sent one of his boys down with a tractor to tow us out the field. Problem averted! 

But first a little pit stop....

Applying Lanoguard rust treatment
Applying Lanoguard rust treatment

During the initial build, our friends at Lanoguard had sponsored the application of their chemical-free rust treatment, derived from lanolin, to the bottom of the bus. Knowing we were off to the salty sea air of Beachy Head, they offered to reapply, suggesting we park up at Newhaven Beach so they could film it for their social media.


A stop-over by the beach? Who could resist!


After cleaning the underbody of the bus at a local garage (it was pretty muddy!), we parked up at the beach in time for sunset. It was lovely down by the water, listening to waves lap beside us. It reminded me of the times we parked on the beach in Texas at Padre Island. Sigh.

To the distant cliffs!

View of skoolie and cliffs
The Skoolie with the cliffs at Birling Gap behind us

The drive to Eastbourne was the furthest we would had driven the bus ourselves since it arrived. Each bus is built to different specs – some are good for the mountains, others are better for the cities. Our Florida bus was one that stopped and started a lot – i.e. it didn’t get up much speed. There also aren’t many hills in that part of Florida. We could see the cliffs looming over Seven Sisters. How would it fare?


Thankfully, it was fine. It chugged slowly up the hills and descended gracefully! We made it to Eastbourne’s heritage coast, via the single file bridge at Cuckmere Valley, and one of the most beautiful views over the snaking Cuckmere river. We had no trouble with the field, not a bog in sight – I guess when you are a the top of a cliff then the water runs down!

Safely in our new home

View from skoolie beachy head
Sucking up the solar at Beachy Head

We are now happily parked up in our field at Black Robin Farm, the deck down for sunset drinks and morning coffees. It really is a beautiful spot and we feel very lucky to have access to such a stunning part of the South Downs. 

Tempted by your own Skoolie Stay? Get in touch and we can get you booked up!
News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping

Converting the Skoolie Stays American school bus

ruth wimpory skoolie stays

By Ruth

Buying an American school bus and bringing it to the UK is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of time, skills, creativity and contacts to turn an old retired yellow bus from a different continent into a rural bolt hole in the UK.  Luckily, after travelling 14,000 miles across America in our first Skoolie, we had the confidence, ability and network to take the plunge and buy bus number 2 and launch our new business: Skoolie Stays.  

Buying an American school bus from the UK

Chicken buses central america

There was a sense of de-ja-vu when it came to purchasing a new bus.  It felt very different this time though because of the financial risk. The major cost of a Skoolie project is not in the purchase of the bus – ex-school buses are plentiful in the States, so they are good value – it’s in the shipping and conversion. We needed to be sure we picked a good bus that would be worth the investment we were ready to make. When we found a bus in Florida that had our choice of engine, transmission and had the ‘dog-nose’ look we like (rather than flat-faced), as well as the interior height we sought, we had our friends check it out before we put it on the ship over to Southampton.  


In America, you buy your bus and then convert it before applying to change the registration from bus to a private vehicle. You get your insurance and hit the road. It’s a slightly more complicated process in the UK. You need an HGV license for a start. You also need to navigate the confusing world of DVLA guidelines about MOTs and imported vehicles to get your bus registered. Long story short, you need to get your MOT certificate before you begin your conversion as it needs to look like a bus in order to be assessed as a bus. We had to make a few changes to fit within UK rules and regs, but we sailed through our test and were able to send off our paperwork for registration. A few weeks later. we had our plates. 

Stay before you buy? We can help!

When your ideas are getting serious, why not come and stay with us? Spend a couple of days and nights on our Skoolie Stay. Check that head-height, get a real idea of how solid it is…and how big. Big enough? Sit and think about layouts, why not bring a measuring tape! Get in the drivers seat and try it out for size. Can you really imagine driving one?  Pick up the books on the bookshelf about Skoolie builds and our own project and meditate on your future adventure. Does you other half need persuading? Here’s a surprise weekend away that’ll help! Get in touch now and we’ll help you out with this and a friendly chat about your own school bus buying ideas. Or just check prices and book now, and give us a shout when you are ready.  – Guy & Ruth

OK, read on about how to buy your own ‘Skoolie’!

Converted bus hotel
bus glamping west sussex

First conversion job: stripping the bus

Seat removal is the first place to start with a Skoolie conversion but it’s a nasty job. Our seats were bolted onto rails, which meant they came out easily, but the rails themselves also had to go and the bolts were tricky to shift. 



It took us 3 filthy and exhausting days to remove some 500 bolts. Each one had to be angle-grinded and then hammered or drilled out. Mercifully, the wooden sub-floor was easy to wrench up. We’ve seen plenty of builds in which this stage is even worse – the glue refusing to let go of either surface – so we thanked the Skoolie gods and pulled it all back for the big reveal. What state was the floor in?



The condition of the floor is always a bit of a unknown when buying your bus. You can get an idea of rust from a survey of underneath and around the edges, but you never know until you rip the floor up what kind of state the bus will be in. It can be an expensive disaster to find a rusty, holey mess. The best way to prevent that, especially if you are buying remotely, is to purchase a bus from somewhere that stays warm(ish) and is not too near the sea, and that is built to drive on terrain similar to that which you will need it for. It’s no good heading to the Alps in a city bus that is designed to stop and start on flat roads!



Our floor was thankfully brilliant – just a touch of surface rust which is exactly what you’d expect. We sanded back the surface then treated it with de-greaser before spraying it down with a specialist metal prep. All the holes left by the bolts were filled with bits of old bus metal and pennies (the perfect size) and with the whole floor deemed waterproofed, we covered everything with a rust preventative paint, which is totally resistant to road salt, petrol, battery acid, etc, before adding a gloss top coat (which took forever to dry in the February snow!). g

Back to the metal ... and then out with half of it

Floor done, we moved onto the walls. All the unnecessary metal, fittings and insulation had to be removed, so there were a few more long days wielding angle-grinders, drills and hammers to remove the aircon units and the disabled door lift.  Dirty, dusty, achey days.


We then started on the roof, removing the two emergency exits. Climbing out the hatch to the roof-deck was one of our favourite things to do in America. They are not designed to be opened and closed as regularly as we did though, so ours broke. We wanted to avoid that this time and, as we weren’t building a deck on top, decided to replace the front exit with a glass marine hatch and the rear with a campervan-style vent. Neither were the size of the hole left by the original hatch, so we patched the hole, made a new frame to support the marine hatch (out of old bus rails) and then cut through again to fit. It worked brilliantly and now we always have a view of the sky, even when it is closed.



With the hatches done, the roof was cleaned and sanded down. All the rivets and seams were coated with silicone before a fresh coat of military vehicle paint was applied. The white top, as well as looking traditional for a school bus and making it pretty for the birds and paragliders overhead, has the added benefit of reflecting the sun’s rays and keeping the bus cooler on hot days. 

Taping out our planned layout

MArking out the space in a Skoolie

Once the interior was dry we put the insulation and the ply subfloor down. Suddenly it was starting to look like a useable space and we could dance around marking things out in tape. We had a plan already of course, but you never know how it will feel until you lay it out. Are those tight gaps workable? Can you squeeze anything better into that space?


Before we could get too excited, we hit a problem. We’d picked the worst time of year to begin our conversion. February was freezing but at least it was dry. March was wet, wet, wet. In this instance it was useful though. We arrived one soggy morning to find tell-tale wet spots below the windows. It could only mean one thing – leaky seals. This is a common problem, particularly with this style of window frame, and it was good that the issue was flagged up early in the build. Despite the foul conditions, Guy had to spend the day on a ladder re-sealing each one up while I dammed the drips with blue roll. When the wads of tissue came away dry, Guy was allowed back in again!


With a solid floor, sealed windows and our masking tape guides, we were able to start framing out the living space and lining the walls and ceiling with sheep’s wool insulation. We chose Cumbrian wool because of the eco-credentials. I also liked the idea of wrapping up the bus in a big woolly jumper, even though it smelt like a farmyard for a few days until we got the waterproof membrane taped on top.

Getting down and dirty with the plumbing and heating

Plumbing in a Skoolie

With the inside taking shape, Guy turned his attention to the plumbing for the water and heating. It was a tricky and messy period of the build and even though he had spent hours preparing detailed schematics and timelines for ordering, it was still an almighty challenge and nothing seemed to work quite as we had planned at the first pass. When you are building a bespoke conversion you can’t always buy things off the shelf and much of the time we ended up sourcing what we needed from companies who sold pond supplies or farming equipment. The measurements varied between imperial and metric, but also seemed to be dependent on different companies interpretations of how to measure. Things would arrive and be a mm too small or wouldn’t flex in the right way. It was endlessly frustrating and kept Guy on the laptop until late at night as that was the only time he had free to research and purchase new.


We got there in the end and once we had everything mounted and working, we set about rust-proofing the exterior underbelly with Lanoguard, a sheep-wool derived rust protector. It is a brilliant product and so much better than chemical protectors. Lanoguard even came down to help us apply it. We warmed up their thick grease and painted it on the bolt holes so that it could really soak in to the newly exposed areas, then set up the pressure spray to cover the bottom in a more diluted, thinner product. Mark and Jacob got under the bus with Guy, I went to make them all tea and by the time I came back they had finished and the bus looked brand new.

Fitting out the kitchen, bathroom and living room

Building the interior of a skoolie

Back inside, the framing was done and we had the skeleton of a bedroom and bathroom, as well as a kitchen carcass. It was time to call in the specialists.

John arrived to help us with the tiling, spending days coiled up in the bathroom turning an empty space into a luxurious bathroom. Lots of people are not sure whether you can actually use ceramic tiles in a vehicle conversion, but as long as you use the right kind of flexible grout and sealant, it’s fine. 



Once the bathroom was complete, we moved on to the panelled pine ceiling and made one of many last minute design changes that have gone on to become real features. This time it was to add a long wooden backbone down the length of the bus to help ensure the slats went in neatly and evenly, but also to provide a more solid base for our spotlights. It was time for the first fix electrics. 


With Guy plumbing, John panelling, Neily working on the cabinets, Steve fitting the wiring, Marcus doing the LPG and Andy from Hove log burners lying prostate on the floor trying to fit the log-burning stove, it was quite timely that the Government chose that point to send the kids home from school. It was time for me to leave the boys and work from home! 

Repurposing the bus seats and working from home

Repurposing bus seats

My fingers may not have been as cold as the boys but it didn’t mean I could take my foot of the pedal. In between home-schooling I painted endless panels of wood , all of which had to dry in the warmth of the house, and spent hours researching and ordering bits for the bus. It was also a chance to begin work on all the creative ideas that we had been thinking about. Home-schooling art projects began!


We wanted to reuse as much as we could from our bus and, with a whole bus load of seats at our disposal, it made sense to repurpose a couple and use them to create a dining area. Only problem is, those seats are wide – the aisle space on a US bus seems to be smaller than a UK bus. We decided to cut them down to 2/3 their original size, welding them together and reupholstering them in new vinyl to create our own American-diner. We found an original teak school table from the Wood Recycling Store, cleaned off the gum but left the graffiti, and used part of the disabled lift as a table leg to complete the look.

In for a penny - the epoxy kitchen countertop

Epoxy counter

My other big ‘work from home’ project was the kitchen countertop. Whilst travelling in America, we’d helped our friends create an incredible feature shower wall with glow in the dark epoxy on pecky cypress (wood that is full of holes made by fungus… we don’t get it over in the UK, although other woods get fungus holes) and I really wanted my own epoxy project on the bus. I had in mind a river table but when I started to research it, the huge amount of epoxy you need and the seasoned live wood were prohibitively expensive. I started looking into micro-cement instead but that too was pricey. Time was running out – Neily needed to move on with the kitchen – and I was moments away from ordering a boring butcher block surface when I realised that if we did a shallow epoxy pour over an interesting surface, an epoxy countertop was do-able. Scrap the butcher block and head to the bank – I wanted pennies and lots of them!


Neily cut me the MDF base, I primed it and then set to the job of meticulously cleaning and glue-ing 3000 (ish) pennies and halfpennies to the top. Grout went on next and then it was polished. I was nervous about the epoxy pour because you only get one shot at it. You mix the epoxy and hardener to exactly the right ratio and then stir for a specific amount of time. Once you start, there is no room for error. Get your ratios wrong and it doesn’t set. Set your timer incorrectly and it gets dangerously hot. Pour it badly and you get bubbles. Cure it at the wrong temperature and it scuppers the process. Yikes. We followed the instructions to the letter! The main concern was the rolled edge – to achieve this you have to tape the edge of the countertop to form a barrier. You leave it to cure for an hour or so until it has more of a gel consistency, then remove the tape. The gel doesn’t just stream off like a liquid, so it holds its shape as it drips and eventually rolls over the edge. It was still a bit bubbly, but we chose an epoxy that degasses itself as it cures so we left it for the night. In the morning it was crystal clear and looked sooooo good. It took 24 hours to be touch dry and then a further couple of days to completely harden up. A quick sand of the now solid drips at the bottom and we were good to go. It was a week in the making, but it was worth it – it’s a triumph, even if I do say so myself!

Getting off-grid ready - solar power, compost loos and a service vehicle

Solar panels Skoolie

We wanted the bus to be off-grid. We loved that we could just travel anywhere in the U.S, we didn’t need to plug in to survive and could stay in the wilds as long as our water tank allowed us, so our UK bus needed the same features.


With the help of some fabulous friends, we were able to install 6 solar panels. We hinged each panel on to aluminium boxing with gas struts so that they can be angled to 35 degrees, which is optimum for harvesting the low English winter sun. We will be able to generate plenty of power even on wintery days. 


The other eco-arrival was our compost loo. We thought long and hard about this one. There was no doubt in our minds that a compost toilet made sense – it not only massively reduces water consumption, which means we wouldn’t require a black waste tank, we lived with one for a year and we know that they are brilliant devices for small spaces.


The concern was guests being grossed out with the idea of a campsite-style stinky long-drop. In the end we figured that we just had to change people’s minds by promoting the benefits, namely the enormous amount of water you are saving, and addressing the fears, the biggest one being that they smell. They don’t at all. The liquids and solids mixing together is the main culprit of the lingering smells and with a compost toilet like ours, they are separated. Guy has fitted a tank under the bus for the liquids. The solids go into a container that is vented to the outside. A scoop of sawdust to hide the evidence and a sliding lid to cover the container, and you can walk away confident of no smells.


Our toilet choice was a Simploo, a UK make. They have been really helpful and their customer service is also top notch. We are pretty sure we will win our guests round with their product.

Adding design flair with repurposed wood, upcycled metal and an evolving cool colour pallette

Painting the wooden panels

From the beginning of the build we tried to make the most of the materials around us, re-using parts of the bus as I’ve mentioned, but also upcycling things we found along the way and hunting for the perfect pieces in second-hand stores.


Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Ebay were my friends. Scouring through other people’s trash produced bus treasure which came with fascinating stories or brought us new followers. Our perfectly-sized Scandi leather sofa belonged to a local man who would chill out and relax on it as the tunes played from his fabulous Wurlitzer. Our retro leather pouffe came from a lady who was thrilled to find out that her beloved footstool (which didn’t fit her house) was going to move to a Skoolie. She was so inspired by our story that she went on to become one of our first bookings. 



The ‘treasures’ often evolved to be something entirely different. The old doors we picked up that were too heavy for us to use, turned out to be made from American oak slats that we were able to plane down and use to frame our old bus mirror as part of a feature wall, and a kitchen cabinet. A water-damaged teak futon was dismantled and brought back to life as a sliding barn door for the bathroom. The hardwood pallets were used for framing the hatches and even our cutting table from the build was chopped up to be turned into shelves, held up by a huge bit of driftwood we found on the beach. To smooth out the cut marks, I filled in the gaps with leftover  epoxy and glow in the dark paint.


With practically everything finished, it was time to paint. Our original choice of green was developed to create a pallette that matched the wood and copper tones. We added copper and cream paints and fittings and shopped for soft furnishings in soft greys, earthy maroons and teals with the occasional accent of orange because I’d found a fabulous retro Le Creuset ‘volcano’ kettle!


I spent the evenings sewing cushion covers that would tie everything together while the boys worked on their last big project: the murphy bunks.

The murphy bunks and the king-size bed

Murphy bunks in a skoolie

In America, the boys bunks were the worst part of the Skoolie. Our son summed it up:

“They were like coffins! You could barely sit up and there was no air – they sucked”!


Considering they were only being used to sleep in, they took up an enormous amount of space. We knew we wanted to do something different with our UK bus. 


Murphy bunks fold out from the wall, which means they have a much smaller footprint. Friends of ours have ones in which the top bunk drops down to become the back of a sofa (the bottom bunk), but though we liked the design we knew we wanted to keep the sleeping area separate from the living space. 


Guy and Neily excelled themselves with the design and build. They are roomy, comfy and really easy to put up and down because they are assisted with gas struts. It makes a huge difference to the space being able to close them up when they are not in use. And, judging by the social media comments, they are loved as much as the epoxy counter!


The last thing we brought in was the king-size bed mattress and slats. Underneath the bed is the pipework, diesel heater, batteries and the water tank so this was a key working area for much of the build. It was only right at the end that we added the wooden slats and finally brought in the comfy Inofia mattress, transforming it from a work zone to something beautiful and tranquil. The slats sit on a frame so we can lift the whole bed up to access the pipework if ever we need to. 

Laying the floor and the deck

Laying the floor

All that was missing was the floor. Or should I say, a couple of square metres of floor.


Way back at the start of the build I’d sourced 10sqm of old wooden flooring that someone had bought and no longer needed. It was gorgeous engineered, top of the range, oak herringbone-style slats. The problem was, when we took it out the boxes, we only had 6sqm. Gutted…. we needed 8sqm. Would we really have to source something new?


Buying expensive items at the start of a build, when you have the time to shop around, is much easier on the wallet than at the end of a build. We had neither time or finances on our side so I thought I’d try my luck and source the supplier to see if they would help us out with the last 2sqm. I found their name on the side of one of the boxes – Havwoods – and got in touch to see if they still stocked the wood.


Joy of joys, Havwoods still had stock. And, joy of even bigger joys, they loved our Skoolie so much they agreed to sponsor the last corner of the bus so that we could have our beautiful floor without breaking our budget. They even posted up an interview with us on their site. It looks freaking awesome – the shades and patterns of the wooden planks brought together all of the angular designs and warm tones we had used throughout the build. We couldn’t have been happier with the result.



The last thing to arrive was our deck. For this, Tristan, a local lad from Firle area, stepped in to help. He was brilliant and developed the original plan to improve the layout and functionality. It is amazing to be able to walk straight out from the bedroom onto a private sun deck – better than we even imagined and the perfect way to end our build.

The finished Skoolie!

american school bus firle

We are both so proud of what we have achieved – what a journey, what a finish and what a result: we own our very own fantastic Skoolie again.