Revealed: Motorway services with a personal touch – and those to drive on past

Anyone planning an escape from the West Midlands down to Devon or Cornwall might want to take a flask and some sandwiches.

That pampered feeling – Roadchef off the M6 Toll in Norton Canes has been praised by users and finds itself towards the top of the services’ league table. Here Lloyd, an Italian Greyhound/Whippet cross, enjoys some VIP treatment ahead of last year’s Crufts.
That pampered feeling – Roadchef off the M6 Toll in Norton Canes has been praised by users and finds itself towards the top of the services’ league table. Here Lloyd, an Italian Greyhound/Whippet cross, enjoys some VIP treatment ahead of last year’s Crufts.

Motorway service stations on the M5 between our region and the south west have been named and shamed as among the worst in the country.

Anyone travelling north won’t fair much better, with two on the M6 between Stafford and Manchester also making the list.

Bridgwater services on the M5 in Somerset was awarded just one star out of five for all categories analysed by consumer group Which?, including cleanliness, range of facilities and prices. The Moto-owned site received an overall customer score of just 32 per cent.

Recent visitors described the venue as “dirty” and “depressing”, and others complained of a urine smell and toilet paper strewn on the floor. Another claimed it “should be demolished”.

Bridgwater’s location means it is often used by tourists heading to and from Cornwall and Devon.

At the other end of the scale, Gloucester M5 services – an hour’s drive south of the West Midlands – was ranked number one. It received four of five stars for all categories, with a customer score of 86 per cent. One visitor said it was “as far from a typical motorway stop as you can imagine”, with customers praising its “fabulous” farm shop selling home-cooked meals and local produce.

Praised

Other service stations in the bottom five in the country include Gordano services, also on the M5 just south of Bristol. Meanwhile, Keele, off the M6 in Staffordshire, and Sandbach, also on the M6 in Cheshire, join the M1’s Newort Pagnall in completing the worst ranked.

Tebay services on the M6 in Cumbria was ranked second best, followed by Cairn Lodge in Lanark on the M74.

And there is a feather in the cap for the West Midlands – Norton Canes on the M6 Toll in Staffordshire was voted the fourth best in the country with an approval rating of 65 per cent. It has consistently done well in the annual survey and has been praised for its friendly welcome. Last year, as Crufts was happening, it even set up a ‘canine spa’ to make sure dogs turned up at the NEC looking their best.

The findings were based on around 5,600 experiences by 2,700 consumers at 68 motorway service areas.

Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “The results of our survey show that it pays to plan ahead to avoid some of the UK’s worst motorway services.

“It could be the difference between a home-cooked meal in peaceful surroundings, or crowded queues in downright dirty facilities. Whether you’re zipping down the M5 towards the beaches on the south-west coast, or up the M6 towards the Scottish border, make sure your journey isn’t spoiled by a stop at a shoddy service station.”

Moto CEO Ken McMeikan said: “I am appalled by the score at our Bridgwater site. This does not reflect the standards we aspire to across all of our sites.

“I can absolutely guarantee that all of the issues raised will be dealt with immediately to ensure we get Bridgwater back to the standard we know our customers expect and deserve.”

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