Which? reveals the most popular places for a pit stop in the UK and how to make your money go further when stopping off on the motorway.
We asked Which? members to rate the motorway services stations they’d used recently, and ranked the 26 most frequently visited. We found that Tebay (90%), on the M6 in Cumbria, is the favourite beating the closest competition by 21 percentage points.
Tebay, the only location to get a full five-star rating, achieved this feat in both toilet cleanliness and food quality. The family-run business is slightly different from usual service stations as it sells home-grown and local produce in its farm shop and restaurant. The rest of the top five were Wetherby, A1(M) (69%), Cobham, M25 (67%), Peterborough, A1(M) (61%) and Hopwood Park, M42 near Birmingham (59%).
In addition, we looked at the four major motorway service station brands and found that relative newcomer Extra (60%) topped the list. Extra adopts a different approach to other motorway services by leasing space to food and drink retailers and letting them set their own prices in an attempt to increase competition. Roadchef (50%), Moto (47%) and Welcome Break (47%) were the other brands we rated.
Eight in 10 Which? members told us they think food and drink is significantly more expensive at motorway services than elsewhere so we compared the cost of motorway service station basics with the closest supermarket. Our snapshot investigation found that travellers could slash their spending by nearly half, saving up to £11.47 on the same shopping basket.
To save money at motorway services, follow our simple tips:
Don’t fill up with fuel unless you really need to – use the website Petrolprices.com to find somewhere cheaper en route.
Look at motorway services’ websites for deals and offers – Moto and Roadchef have vouchers you can print, and both have mobile apps that provide daily deals.
Members of the AA can get discounts at Moto outlets, including WH Smith, Costa and M&S.
Which? editor Richard Headland, said:
“Our research shows there’s a big difference in the standards you can expect when you pull into a motorway service station. We also found that you can save a packet if you plan ahead and find cheaper alternatives along the route.”
Notes to editors:
1. In April 2014, Which? Travel asked members to complete two online surveys about their experiences of visiting a motorway service area in the UK. Our brand and individual service station comparison results are based on 3,039 member experiences.
2. Food and drink prices were provided by the motorway services or supermarket, with the exception of Welcome Break where prices were collected directly by us. Prices collected in April/May 2014.
3. The 26 motorway service stations listed were the ones that received at least 30 individual ratings from our members.