Service stations in the UK are pretty grim with we’re being honest. The usual fast food restaurants, florescent lights that is oh so flattering at midnight while stocking up on equally bad food for your journey.
Opening in the last year, a new breed of service station has arrived to Gloucester. Westmorland Family have set up various services up North and now they have brought their excellent vision to Gloucester, located between junctions 11a and 12 of the M5. So what makes it so special?? Well….
Firstly, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, who wanted to find a means of creating sustainable income to go back into local communities; and the partnership with Gloucester Services have set up with the Trust should do just that – they intend to donate a percentage of their sales each year back into the community. Secondly, because they are a food business, and Gloucestershire and its surrounding counties are practically unrivaled in the quality and abundance of their food produce, they have been able to put together a fabulous offer which rivals its northern sister. In turn has created a space which doesn’t represent the service stations of yesteryear.
Blending into the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside without being an eyesore of other services, Cotswold stone clad front, a clean beautiful change. They are even the first UK Motorway Service station to install a beehive on site. The service station roof, designed to blend in with the surrounding countryside, is seeded with a wildflower and grass seed mix to create a wildflower meadow, a perfect habitat for the new bee population.
Walking into the service station you are taken back by the amount of natural light and airy feel of the place. They have nailed the service station without actually looking like a service station. Below is the deli sandwich counter, not a cardboard triangle container in sight. Two enormous stripped ash tree trunks cut from the Forest of Dean and hanging from the ceiling to add to the feel.
My parents actually live 10 minutes away from the services and asked if they wanted to join me for lunch there. Which to be honest did feel weird offering lunch at a service station but actually you could tell that many locals had also had the same thought. I went for the New York Deli sandwich with pastrami, Swiss cheese and mustard. Was a delicious lunch without being overly heavy.
Of course I had to go for a hot chocolate which was made from actual chocolate that I had the choice of milk, white and extra dark, which was so rich and a far cry from the awful powdery weak hot chocolates.
After our lunch and catch up we wondered over to the jam packed farmshop with local treats. They have found products from over 130 local suppliers (within 30 miles) and 70 regional suppliers (30-50 mile radius). Of course a farmshop in Gloucestershire would not be complete without a good selection of locally pressed fruit juices, ales and ciders, seasonal soft fruits and traditional fruits. But not just fruits but a selection of naughty treats…
A beautiful selection of breads and treats from Hobbs House and Bertinet, which means I can swing by to pick up a loaf or six on my way to my parents for the weekend.
The meat counter was a thing of beauty, with fantastic local meat which had been hung for the flavour to develop for up to three weeks to make some really remarkable produce. Some incredible Gloucester Old Spot chops have my name on them to give them a try.
It feels weird recommending a service station but when they are remarkable like Gloucester Services, I whole heartily recommend a visit and even worth taking a diversion from your route to stock up on local treats. The Southbound Services will be opening this year, which means I can load up my car to take treats back to Bristol.
Having lived in Gloucester for the last 25 years, I’m super proud that the services opened in my hometown and such a great foodie beacon.
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