The Best Service Stations in the South East
16 November 2017
If you’re on the road as much as we are then you too probably understand the importance of a great service station experience. Sure, you could drive off the beaten track to find exactly the right toilet stop or gastro food option, but the reality of it is that we want somewhere clean, interesting and above all convenient!
Whilst the service station nerds among us will have heard tales of the North West’s Tebay or the South West’s Gloucester services, we think that our beloved South East still has a lot to bring to the Motorway pitstop’s table – from culinary wonders to ideal locations.
Read on for our go-to recommendations – the very best Motorway Service Stops in the South East:
Cobham Services, M25
Recently named as one of the top 10 service stations in the UK following a Transport Focus survey, Cobham is definitely worth planning a stop at next time you’re working your way around the M25.
Nestled between junctions 9 and 10 at Cobham in Surrey, these services benefit from being opened comparatively recently, and thus avoiding the heavy redesigns and restructures we’re seeing at older service stations up and down the country. Since its opening in 2012, following an impressive £75 million investment by operators Extra MSA Services Ltd, it’s helped to plug the “service desert” – a 63 mile gap between service facilities between London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
Flexibility and choice is what makes this station stands out, and it consistently gets a big thumbs up from families. We suspect that’s to do with the choice of everything from the classier Pizza and Noddle options through to the ultimate travel fuel – a dedicated Dessert Station. The kids might be buzzing, but they’re also off your back!
Thurrock Services, M25
It might not have reached the heady heights of Cobham in this year’s survey, but don’t underestimate the M25’s second best service stop, Thurrock – this Moto operated choice scores an impressive 4 burgers out of 5 for its Motorway Services review! If you’re heading between junctions 30 and 31 on the M25, or approaching from the A13, this is a great option for a quick break.
This is a choice stop if you want to power up your electric vehicle, with free hook up points, and it offers a little playground to keep the kiddies occupied – not to mention the lake views! It’s also just down the road from an IKEA, offering a genuine detour for “essential” items and a bag of Daim bars for the road.
Pease Pottage Services, M23
Where our other Service Station recommendations have variety, Pease Pottage has charm. As one of the closest options to our dealerships, we know it well, and love that it can claim a spot as one of the smallest motorway service options in the country. Located off the M23 at Junction 11 near Crawley, this location falls somewhere between a village shop and a service station, although most village shops won’t provide two varieties of high speed electric car chargers! This is, of course, the reason it’s such a popular stop with electric car drivers planning their trips.
Of course, you’re still not spoilt for choice at Pease Pottage, and you have a range of options to choose from - onsite facilities include a Marks & Spencer Simply Food, Burger King, Costa Coffee, WH Smith, Greggs and a West Country Pasty Co together with free WiFi. The WiFi in particular is appreciated whenever we drop by.
Beaconsfield Services, M40
We view Beaconsfield services at the bottom end of the M40 as something of a gateway to the South East, and were surprised when it didn’t make it into the top ten service stations nationwide. After all, where Pease Pottage is tiny, Beaconsfield endeavours to give you quite literally every option you could dream of.
Within its circular passenger lounge you will find all the obvious options and a few that stand out as something a bit different – McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, M&S, WH Smith, El Mexicana, Greggs, Carvery, Chozen Noodles, Mint Leaves Indian, Nandos, Patisserie Valerie and the West Cornwall Pasty shop. We must mention as well that holy grail of awards - Beaconsfield is the proud recipient of a Loo of the Year Award (2014)!
And if a genuine (and welcoming!) Nandos wasn’t the cherry on the cake though, you’ll also find a Wetherspooons on site - and an Ibis hotel to stay in if the choice gets too much and it’s late before you’re ready to leave!
Fleet Services, M3
The final choice for our favourite service stations has to be Fleet services, on the M3 between junctions 4A and 5 – an ideal choice if you’re off to Lego Land! This is a bit of an old school destination, with a pedestrian footway linking the two halves (and be careful, Southbound is currently being re-built!), but it’s also one of those convenient services that offers just the right variety of shops alongside a picnic area to allow you to get some fresh air, stretch your legs and stop the dog going stir crazy.
Fleet also offers a Waitrose rather than M&S, always a great option if you’re fed up with fast food and don’t want to have to talk the kids out of another packet of Percy Pigs at an M&S. There are also two coffee options for the fussy (and caffeine-driven) among us.
What do you think of our choices? Does your favourite South East option make the shortlist or do you disagree passionately with one of our options? Which is your personal favourite Motorway Service stop?