Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Best and worst service stations in the UK

Every driver will sooner or later have to familiarise themselves with the motorway service station. This will mean getting used to poor quality food at rip-off prices in an environment of unbearable drabness. You may not think it, but some are actually better than the others. But seeing as they all blend into one identikit, low-roofed hut in our imaginations, it’s often difficult to remember which ones were worth holding on for, and which should be skipped.

Thankfully one loveable anorak has put together a rankings system for every motorway convenience in the UK. What emerges from the results is that – perhaps unsurprisingly – they're all mostly terrible, with very little to distinguish between the awful and mediocre.

By popular consensus, the best roadside convenience in the UK is the Tebay, on the M6 near Penrith in the north west of England. So far apart from its peers is Tebay that it is described as the Keira Knightley of service stations. It boasts unusually clean toilets, a decent array of health food, a children’s play area, and even a butcher’s onsite. In short, it’s everything we’ve come to expect a service station not to be.

Unfortunately, Penrith is only one of two independent service stations in the UK. The other is Cairn Lodge on the M74 in Scotland, but the reviews suggest this one’s no better than its big corporate rivals. Of the big chains, facilities run by Moto are scored highest, while Welcome Break is considerably worse, and Road Chef outright dismal.

Next time you need a break, consider this, and hope you’re in the vicinity of Penrith near the Lake District, or at least an establishment run by Moto.


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