On a long drive, do you often find yourself wondering where the nearest service station is – and what it’ll have to offer? Well, from the tastiest snacks to the best ones for kids, you’ve come to the right place…
- 61% of people will plan their service station stops before a long journey
- Braintree Essex is the first electric vehicle only facility in the UK
- Tebay and Gloucester services offer bespoke farm shops with locally sourced food and idyllic settings
Service stations, whether you love them or hate them, are a must for long road trips. Whether you need to stop off for the loo, pick up some car snacks or treat yourself to a full-blown sit-down meal, we all know these Motorway meccas can vary massively. As of 2021, there are 98 official service stations signposted from the motorway in the UK, and according to AA 61% of people will plan their station stops before a journey.
So, to help your journey go smoothly we’ve ranked Britain's service stations, looking at what’s on offer…
What are the best service stations for food?
Cobham services on the M25 between junctions nine and ten has been given 4 out of 5 stars for its food options by Which?. So, with a huge choice of eateries such as (cheeky) Nando's, Pizza Express, Leon and more, we'd definitely recommend a visit for your pitstop snacks... and a break from the fifth most hated motorway in the UK!
Four miles north of the M25 you’ll find another foodie heaven at Beaconsfield Services. Here you can sit back and relax as you enjoy an exciting line-up of food choices including M&S, Gregg’s, El Mexicana, Nando’s and Starbucks (which is a drive-thru, too).
If you fancy walking off your feast, there’s a large lakeside terrace where you can get your steps in strolling through its landscaped grounds and preserved woodlands. There’s also a great play area for the little ones to enjoy, giving parents a break from the constant ‘are we there yet?’ questions.
If you're looking for something beyond the usual service station offerings, and fancy something a little more premium, then it’s worth a trip to Tebay and Gloucester services. Both these stations offer bespoke farm shops and restaurants with locally sourced food and produce for drivers to enjoy. And, take it from us, the sausage rolls are delicious!
Tebay Services, located on the M6 in an idyllic location in the heart of the Lake District, was even the setting for the Channel 4 documentary series, ‘A Lake District Farm Shop’, which gave viewers an insight into the farmers, food producers and crafters behind Tebay Services. One to add to the road trip memory book and capture for your camera roll!
What are the best service stations for kids?
Gloucester Services has a full offering for kids as part of their farm kitchen menu, as well as stations for bottle-washing and baby-food microwaving. To keep the kids entertained (and tire them out so they’ll sleep for the rest of the car journey!), there’s both an indoor and outdoor play area.
Similar to Gloucester, Tebay Services also has a kids menu (with kids meals costing just £1 with an adult meal) and once again offers great play spaces for bored kids.
If you’ve ever driven to Cornwall you know that at the height of the season, this journey is quite frankly one of the most tortuous car trips to make due to the lack of motorway and the funnelling of traffic via dual carriageway roads. In light of this, Cornwall services can be a real lifesaver, especially for those travelling with kids.
It’s a large service station with a holiday Inn Express on-site for those emergency stopovers, or if you plan to come down the night before your holiday is due to start!
As Cornwall Services is an independent service station, it champions local fare and is designed to be a good stop off before you hit the small twisty-turny roads that you find in Cornwall. Hosting the usual brands you find at a larger service station such as WHSmith and Spar on site, it also caters for campers with shower facilities and an on-site laundrette. For families, there’s an indoor soft play area which needs to be booked in advance.
Finally, we know how important it is to have peace of mind when you’re on the road, so having breakdown cover makes sense, as nobody likes to be stuck on the hard shoulder of a motorway… especially if you’re miles away from the services and in need of a food break!
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