The UK’s best and worst motorway services – MAPPED

A motorway chase in which a driver hits speeds of 135mph

The summer holidays are upon us and parents will be cramming kids and their beach toys into the backseat before shooting off for a staycation.

While popular seaside destinations like Brighton, Scarborough and Tenby will be expecting the masses, it can be difficult to predict how busy the roads can get.

Car traffic hit 244 billion vehicle miles in Britain last year, according to the Department for Transport, with motorway usage up 13.3 percent on 2021.

With pee stops an absolute certainty and jams very likely on weekends, it’s well worth planning which service stations to hit along the way.

The annual survey by consumer watchdog Which? reveals they’re not all created equal. Check’s map and table below to see the ones to avoid at all costs and the others almost worth a trip by themselves.

READ MORE: Busy motorway shut after ‘cows fall out of lorry’ causing travel mayhem

The best

Gloucester Services Farmshop & Kitchen

What you find at the end of the slip road between junctions 11A and 12 on the M5 more closely resembles a futuristic eco-resort than simple services. A grass-carpeted roof tops floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a glistening pond.

Run by Westmorland, this stop comes top of the Which? rankings for its offering of home-cooked steak and ale pie and a farm shop complete with “bread to rival any baker” and regional cheeses. Jack Whitehall once dubbed them “The Eighth Wonder of the World”.


It’s much the same story at Tebay Services Farm and Kitchen on the M6 between junctions 38 and 39, run by the same company as Gloucester. Nestled on a working farm in the Cumbrian hills, Herdwick lamb and homemade Cumberland sausages are mainstays on the menu, which also features £1 children’s meals.

Clean, spacious and clean as a whistle, Tebay reportedly welcomes some 4.5 million visitors a year – more than the British Museum.

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Cairn Lodge

On the M74 between junctions 11 and 12, Cairn Lodge services near Douglas Castle in Lanarkshire, Scotland secure the triple crown for the Westmorland brand. After a major refurbishment in 2018, it is now lauded for its high-quality breakfasts and tat-free gift shop.

Norton Canes

Described by Motorway Services Online – the site of reference for these matters – as an “exclusive treat for drivers on England’s only tolled motorway”, Norton Canes between junctions 6 and 7 of the M6 Toll is a “veteran of customer satisfaction surveys”. A WHSmith, LEON, McDonalds, Days Inn and Costa are all contained within the vast sleek complex.


The A1(M) has little to offer weary drivers in terms of rest stops, so Wetherby services are an opportunity to be seized. Once again, it’s the food that sets this place apart, receiving rave reviews from passers-through online.

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The worst

Bridgwater Services

Bridgwater on the M5 in Somerset has two claims to fame: it is both the smallest services on the British motorway network, and the worst-rated. According to Which?, unfortunate visitors described it as “dirty”, “depressing” and “unsafe’”.

They’re also something of a nightmare to get to, requiring the navigation of two roundabouts and a cramped split-level car park. A well-frequented stop on the camper and caravaning route the South West, the flurry of negative reviews appears to have inspired little change. One driver summed it up for DevonLive by saying: “There’s bad and then there’s Bridgwater.”


There’s a Waitrose at the Welcome Break Gordano motorway service area, but that doesn’t seem to have improved the experience of most who stop. Just south of Bristol on junction 19 of the M5, online reviewers often vent their fury at the queues to get in and out.

Newport Pagnell

Newport Pagnell services just north of Milton Keynes on the M1 were the location of Britain’s first motorway restaurant back in the Sixties. By most accounts, they have fallen from grace since then. Steer well clear of the toilets.


Motorway Services Online claims a recent improvement in standards at Sandbach between junctions 16 and 17 on the M6 has made it “almost unremarkable”. It still, however, features among the lowest of all in terms of customer satisfaction according to Which?. The overpass in particular is best avoided alone at night.


Keele’s history as a service station goes back decades, and it shows. Despite many refurbishments, the dated look of the place is noted by many drivers, as is the lack of step-free access to the amenities on the bridge.

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