Gloucester Services M5, Brookthorpe

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Gloucester Services M5, Brookthorpe

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Review of "Gloucester Services M5, Brookthorpe"

published 12/09/2015 | RICHADA
Member since : 20/06/2004
Reviews : 371
Members who trust : 609
About me :
If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++ Sadly - Nobody has asked me for £100 yet, I'm not in the habit of giving away money! ++
Excellent
Pro Character. Clean. Eco Friendly. Farm Shop. Landscaping. Modern.
Cons Very Little!
exceptional
Value for Money
Quality of Rooms
Standard of Service
Quality of Food & Drink
Cleanliness

"AN ATTRACTION ON THE M5 AT GLOUCESTER"

The front entrance, local, cotswold stone and yes, that is a grass roof!

The front entrance, local, cotswold stone and yes, that is a grass roof!

MOTORWAY SERVICE STATIONS; LOVE THEM OR LOATHE THEM?

This is a rather unusual review – I have not read a motorway service station review previously here on Ciao, they are rare indeed elsewhere too, which I find odd considering that so many of we motorists are forced to use them, more often than not as a “panic” or comfort stop on long journeys.

During the early decades of my motoring career, motorway service stations had a justifiably appalling reputation for over-charging and under-serving in equally spectacular measure. Then, with the dawning of a new century, things started to change, places with character started to appear; a proper haven from a busy motorway journey such as Tebay on the M6 opened on the edge of the Lake District. Newer motorways such as the M40 inspired such magnificence as Oxford Services, yes, the last fifteen years have seen we motorists far better, if no less expensively, served by these places that many love to hate.

For my own part I will never purchase motorway service station fuel in this country; you will likely be paying at least 10% more than at a fuel station just off the motorway, with most of us carrying smart phones now, there is no excuse for paying this much for fuel, even as a panic purchase. However, on any long journey we stop for the toilets and sometimes even to pick up a paper or beverage of some kind. Until two weeks ago I had never felt inspired to sit down and eat a full meal in the surroundings of a motorway service station however.

I have been inspired to write this particular review having, over the last six weeks, experienced three entirely different experiences at different motorway service stations; the very good, the exceptional and the truly awful. Without spoiling the rest of this review, I’ll withhold the names, locations and verdicts for the time being.

Subject to the reaction to this review, this may well turn out to be the first of a series, perhaps even building up a RICHADA guide to Motorway Service Stations, here and abroad.

LOCATION:

Gloucester Services are twin service stations – i.e. one located adjacent to both the north and south bound carriageway, as opposed to a mega-services (e.g Oxford Services on the M40) on the M5 between junctions 11a and 12, just outside Gloucester. It is a very convenient journey breaker between Birmingham and Bristol.

ORIENTATION 9 / 10

How good is the signposting, how easy it is to get to the area of the services you need?

This is a thoroughly modern, newly developed service station and as such one would expect them to get this correct. With many older, or the much larger “mega-services”, you reach the services via very complex road systems that can have you completely lost. At one services (on the same journey by sheer chance) I drove around the complex twice, never finding the services!

Gloucester is friendly from the start on this score, although, thanks to the landscaping and grass roof, it would not be so easy to spot the southbound services on a grey day – the northbound ones are rather easier to see as you approach in the car.

Getting on and off the motorway is easy and intuitive here at Gloucester, I was not left in any doubt as to accessing the car park, or on departure, re-joining the motorway.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS? 9 / 10

Is the car park well marked – how wide are the bays and is disabled parking clearly marked and in plentiful supply? Is the car park well lit?

Part of the impression here may be due to the car park being new and freshly landscaped, but earning high rates immediately from me is the fact that the parking bays marked out are far wider than average. My Subaru is not a particularly wide car, but at Oxford or the new Cobham Services, the spaces are so narrow that, even with a mere 32 inch waist getting out of it is a real squeeze, at Gloucester that was not an issue.

Disabled parking spaces are plentiful and very sensibly arranged along the pavement leading directly to the services. This is not always the case with the less able bodied having to play chicken with busy traffic, the parking arrangements at Gloucester Services ensure safety for these more vulnerable travellers.

I have not visited either of the two Gloucester Service Stations at night, but being so modern I would be very surprised if they were not well illuminated during the hours of darkness.

HOW FAR FROM THE CAR TO THE SERVICES? 9 / 10

Do you have to walk half a mile from your car to the cover of the services?

On a busy Tuesday early afternoon, I had no problem finding a space in the first row of parking spaces facing the main Services building; that was on the southbound M5 carriageway. Similarly, on a very busy Saturday afternoon, before Christmas, the northbound services allowed us to park conveniently close too.

If you are of the mind that parking at a distance and stretching your legs after a long drive is beneficial, then the car park is large enough to allow you to do that. These particular services are so well thought out that, whilst, dogs, excepting guide dogs, are not allowed into the services building, there is a sign-posted dog walk on the edge of the car park. Water bowls are also provided for our canine friends.

LOOKS AREN’T EVERYTHING, BUT HOW DOES THE PLACE LOOK? 9 / 10

Is there a friendly, welcoming feel about the place or is this an ugly, hostile throw-back to the 1970’s full of dark shadows?

Service stations of old were never places of beauty, however, the shift over the last fifteen years has been nothing short of meteoric. It is many years since I last visited Tebay Services on the M6 in Westmorland on the edge of the Lake District, it was however a game changer in terms of motorway services, Gloucester is part of the same family business.

The ethos behind it is to be part of the local environment and community rather than impacting upon it.

Here at Gloucester Services, rather than a showcase of modern steel and glass architecture (Oxford & Cobham!) you have a building, road system and fuel station that can only be described as low profile. Indeed, the main services are barely visible, a grass roof with glass roof lights forming a gentle curve in a sense is really nothing to look at, just the way it was designed to be in this rural setting.

As motorway services go, from this point of view, Gloucester is special and I would like to see it serve as something of a pattern for others – especially in scenic and rural locations which have already been carved up by a motorway.

HOW EASY ARE THE TOILETS TO FIND? 10 / 10

What is the internal layout like? Are the toilets, cash machine and newspapers easy to find?

This for me is the crunch. More often than not our whole reason for stopping at motorway services in the first place will be to use the toilet, and, initially, that is exactly what caused me to stop here at the M5 southbound Gloucester Services. Anything else that we may do in such a place is of secondary importance.

One of my pet hates in life is that most modern motorway services are designed in such a way that in order to access the toilets, you have to negotiate your way right through the entire complex, thus passing every food outlet and phone gadget franchise on the way.

When busting for the loo after a couple of hours at the wheel, the last thing I want to be doing is pushing my way through the McDonalds queue (Cobham!) in order to access the toilets.

Here at Gloucester that was not an issue, not only is the building arranged with a wide, but shallow, central hall, the farm shop and food outlets are well separated from the toilets, it is fully possible just to pop in and out of here without getting caught up in the crowds.

HOUSEKEEPING 10 / 10

Are the services clean and tidy inside?

Newness is obviously on the side of the cleaners here, but motorway services take hard use from an unsympathetic public. On our visits to both Gloucester services we have been very impressed with the overall cleanliness. Some services even have an unpleasant smell about them, all here at Gloucester is freshness and light.

TOILET FACILITIES 9 / 10

Are the toilets and washroom generally in good clean order – are they “family friendly”?

Family friendly yes, thanks to being, like the rest of the place, well light, bright and light. Absolutely no complaints about the cleanliness either, they look and smell fresh and there are plenty of them, both urinals and toilet cubicles.

FOOD & DRINK ON OFFER 9 / 10

A full meal or a quick cuppa, what are your options and will you need a second mortgage to pay for them?

When was the last time you were inspired by a motorway services to sit down and eat a meal? In my case, in 35 years, never!

Here at Gloucester both the layout of the services and the excellently displayed food make the dishes on offer look most tempting. This is not haute cuisine as you would expect, it is however, wholesome, well cooked food actually served with a smile!

Not bad value either, I actually chose the fish and chips, served with peas. I had to stop the chef from piling more chips onto the plate – my battered cod was a more than generous size too. OK, at £12.95 including a tin of Sanpellegrino sparkling Limonata it was not cheap, but I did conclude that, even compared to off the motorway options, it offered good value for money. The cod was delicious, the chips exceptionally good and the peas perfectly cooked. There was a good choice of help yourself sauces from bottles located next to the knives and forks – which themselves were perfectly clean.

The choice of hot and cold drinks is sufficient to satisfy the most picky of motorway users.

Better still is the environment in which you eat. The particular day that I had lunch at Gloucester Services was probably the most humid of the year, the environment was comfortable in the spacious and bright dining area, but I chose to take my tray out through the electric doors and eat at one of the many tables overlooking the small lake to the rear of the services.

PAPERS, FLOWERS, JIGSAW PUZZLES OR AN ORANGE? 10 / 10

Can you buy what you need, or forgot to get elsewhere?

Yes, all of that and a fantastic farm shop and butchers selling local produce too! There are far more meats and cheeses available here than in your average superstore, only this is a much nicer environment in which to shop. There is also a local crafts section, all of which bodes well for picking up that unique gift to present to your hosts upon arrival – oh that all motorway services could offer anywhere near this quality of facilities!

This gives these services an extra dimension in that they are a place that locals will come to shop, not just motorway bound travellers. The very large, open plan farm shop gives Gloucester Services a unique ambiance, a whole world away from the usual “fast food franchise” same-again services that we are all so used to and bored with.

ARE YOU AN HGV DRIVER?

This is one of the nicest of places to park up overnight thanks to the facilities and general layout here. Thanks to good housekeeping it is also clean and well maintained. HGV’s will pay £23 for overnight parking, but you will receive £5 to spend on food within the Services. Free shower facilities are provided.

CONCLUSION - ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN WOULD I RECOMMEND GLOUCESTER SERVICES? 10 / 10

Yes, I would!

There are few motorway services in this country that are worth actually recommending, this however is undoubtedly an exception. More than that, it is a place, like Tebay, at which I would actually stop from choice rather than because I have a particular need to stop.

In truth all motorway services should offer similar standards, as it is, Gloucester stands out head and shoulders above others in this country and I suspect that this is likely to remain the case for a very long time to come.

OVERALL SCORE: 94%

(Other service stations to be added for comparison purposes as, and when, reviewed)

CONTACT:

Gloucester (M5) Services,
Brookthorpe,
Gloucester,
GL4 0DN.

Tel: 01452 813254

www.gloucesterservices.com
(c) RICHADA / CIAO 12.9.15

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Comments on this review

  • justarube published 08/09/2016
    Great x
  • littleowlski published 18/08/2016
    Excellent review. Stopped here at the weekend and was very impressed!
  • supercityfan published 24/11/2015
    An interesting choice of review but excellently done.
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Product Information : Gloucester Services M5, Brookthorpe

Manufacturer's product description

Ciao

Listed on Ciao since: 07/09/2015