The five best motorway service stations (according to us).

INSIGHT | 29 MAY, 2018

Motorway service stations. You’ve been there many times and at all times of the day and night. You stop in a poorly-lit car park with overflowing bins. Enter a tired-looking building that’s mostly empty, with various shops shut. The toilets are somewhere near the brightly-lit terror of “that room with loads of fruit machines in it.”

You make haste towards the one food outlet that’s open. You’re tired and hungry. You scan the remains of the sandwiches, their edges curling menacingly. A surly woman stands ready to serve you a lukewarm coffee. The coffee is weak, the sandwich joyless. Your exit is swift.


Now, far be it from us to paint service stations in a wholly negative light. They serve a purpose for people who do lots of driving up and down the country (including to and from physical car auctions). And some of them actually aren’t bad. We’ve put together a few examples of the places you might want to stop, given the choice. Behold our five favourite UK service stations…and a bonus location.

  • Gloucester Services (M5)

Gloucester Services has a logo (a pig), some values and a farmshop. For this isn’t your regular service station. It offers delicious local produce (including from a local butcher and a local baker, but as yet not a local candlestick maker) that’s sourced in the area and purchased by people from far and wide.

Fun fact: In 2016, Gloucester Services was included in The Good Food Guide.

  • Tebay Services (M6)

Tebay or not Tebay? That is the question. To which the answer should be a firm “yes” if you’re anywhere near the Costa del Cumbria and asking yourself “should I stop at these nice services here on the M6 at Tebay?” It’s the original version of Gloucester Services, brought to you by the same people and offering many of the same benefits. It also has a logo (a duck).

Fun fact: You can call Tebay Services and pre-order your shopping 24 hours in advance.

Service station sign

  • Norton Canes Services (M6 Toll)

Well look at you, high-roller. Paying for the toll! Or maybe you’ll just be putting it through expenses as per usual. In any event, you also get the added bonus of taking a gracefully curvaceous slip-road to Norton Canes services. Often surprisingly busy, you’ll find a regular selection of food outlets and approximately 107 different places in which to buy a coffee – including a recently-opened drive-thru.

Fun fact: When opened in 2004, Norton Canes was described by a national newspaper as having “the look of a Scandinavian airport lounge.”

  • Reading Services (M4)

Included here mainly because the westbound services were given a 100% satisfaction score in a recent study by Transport Focus (the eastbound services scored 96%). What could possibly go wrong? With a fine choice of burgers, pasties, doughnuts, Thai curries and hot and cold beverages, not a lot. There’s also a dog exercising area in case you’re taking your pooch to a car auction and it needs to stretch its legs or do some reps.

Fun fact: Meeting rooms can be hired at Reading Eastbound from £30 for half a day.

  • Gretna Services (A74M)

To Scotland, and over to some Google reviewers for their comments about these services, which include: “excellent facilities,” “great stop, with everything you need” and “reasonably good service area.” Aside from attracting such plaudits, Gretna also has a Canny Scot Shop containing lots of Scottish-themed gifts, and a Tesla Supercharger for when you’ve dusted off your Tesla and travelled to the auction in it.

Fun fact: As the services are operated by Welcome Break, Gretna’s toilets are branded “WelcomeToilets.”

  • Your favourite armchair (anywhere)

As mentioned, service stations serve a purpose, and we’ve had a little fun highlighting some of the better ones. But what if you could forget about long drives to and from physical car auctions? And not have to stop at services at all? Because you can use technology to change the way you source your stock – and do it in a fraction of the time it’s currently taking.

Fun fact: ADESA UPSTREAM is a way to buy and sell stock using your phone, an app and no motorways. Find out more about UPSTREAM and how we’re transforming vehicle remarketing for dealers.


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