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The UK's top service stations

5 Minutes

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  • What’s the best service station in the UK?
  • What features make a good service station?
  • How can a service station experience be improved?

We’ve all been there – cruising down the motorway feeling a bit tired from all the driving, needing the loo and starting to feel a bit peckish, too. You look at the signs for the services, hoping to see some of your favourite roadside vendors… We took a survey of 1,000 drivers to find out what they think makes a good service station, and then we asked them to rank their favourite ones in the UK. So, let’s find out their Top 5, and what it was they like so much about them:

5. Newport Pagnell – M1

The Welcome Break five minutes’ drive from the centre of Milton Keynes is mainly used by people flying in and out of Luton Airport, which we would say is pretty convenient which is what 13% of drivers in our survey wanted. And it’s easy to see why it’s so popular, with free shower facilities and a hotel, it’s pretty handy if you’ve just got off a plane. Described as “a well-cared for service [that] provides a great spot to take a break when driving North” we also hear there’s “great coffee” …can’t complain! With lots of food spots to choose from which 7% of drivers in our survey voted for. Not to mention their EV charging facilities.

4. Fleet Services – M3

Another Welcome Break, this time in Hampshire near the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort – a favourite day out for any young family. Drivers appreciated the “convenient location” voted by 13% of drivers and that it’s “clean, tidy and [there’s] plenty of parking.” With 15% of our surveyed drivers wanting a clean service station to stop at, with 10% wanting usable bins that are regularly emptied, so Fleet seems to be the place to stop at and enjoy that much needed break from the road with lots of places to eat, drink and even go to the toilet which 14% of drivers wanted. 

3. Cobham – M25

This is another Welcome Break, between junctions 9 and 10 on the southern section of the M25. It’s located just five miles from RHS Garden Wisley, which is well worth a visit – you could spend all day there and still only see half of everything the gardens have to offer.

This service station hosts a Pizza Express as well, so your day could flourish from flowers to flour. Our drivers appreciated the “clean facilities”, “huge parking and resting area”, “lots of great amenities”, and the fact that “everything is there!” From EV charging, free WiFi (which 9% of drivers in the survey wanted as a feature), to pet-friendly outdoor areas, Cobham has it all to offer.

 

2. Gloucester Services – M5

The gourmet Gloucester service station that delivers a VIP experience. This Services won 19% of the votes in our survey. People remarked on the “lovely natural environment and high quality food,” as well revealing it’s “clean, tidy, and there’s plenty of spaces to sit outside.” With 6% of drivers in our survey wanting nice views and natural scenery, Gloucester services really seems like the place to go.

On top of the basics, there’s a Farmshop and butchery that works with 130 local producers and, what’s more, up to 3p of every £1 spent there goes towards supporting local people and projects.

Feeling peckish? Gloucester Services’ Kitchen has you covered with its glass-fronted restaurant serving everything from a Full English to proper partisan pies. Yum! And if you're travelling with the kids, we all know they're always hungry. Children 10 and under eat for £1 when bought with an adult-sized meal all day, every day. 

1. Tebay Services – M6

If you’ve ever been, it’ll come as no surprise to you that this takes the top spot, after harnessing 21% of the votes. For the sake of those who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Tebay Services, people from our survey loved that there’s “artisan food and a campsite,” with 12% of drivers in our survey wanting somewhere to stop with lots of food choices and 7% wanting choices for retail, their Farmshop isn't one to miss. The accessible service station for all drivers was desired by 6%, have also said that is has a “superb setting and [that] it’s well looked after” and that “the quality of facilities and shopping is outstanding.” With 6% of drivers wanting to stop off somewhere with natural scenery and 7% wanting outdoor space, Tebay really seems like a no-brainer. 

Like Gloucester Services, they have a Farmshop and butchery with a lovely glass-fronted restaurant to eat in. This was opened in 1972 by John and Barbara Dunning after the M6 motorway was built through their farm. Similarly, they support the local people and communities with up to £100,000 donated every year.

On top of this, Tebay Services have also been awarded “Specialist Food Retailer of the Year 2022,” so you’re bound to enjoy your grub as you look over the duck-filled pond with a background of rolling hills in the distance.

There you have it - the Top 5 service stations in the UK according to our audience of 1,000 drivers in August 2022. In terms of key features, there are two main things that people look for from their services – cleanliness and ample toilets. Along with wanting a wide range of food outlets to choose from, people are also generally interested in there being a picnic area with enough outdoor space to walk their dogs.

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