Motorway Services Online

Exeter services

Facilities | Rating | ReviewsExeter
Road:M5 at J30
(also accessible to traffic on the A376 and the A379)

Address:Moto Hospitality Ltd
Exeter Motorway Services Area
Sidmouth Road
Telephone number:01392 436266
Signposted from the road?Yes
Previous operators:Granada
Grid reference:SX967918
Services type:Single site located at a junction.
Visit Exeter/Moto's official website

The last services on the M5 (located just before the road splits into two routes across Devon), Exeter sits in an industrial estate and is connected to the local cycle network. It is an important part of the 'staycation' experience - mainly because whenever the holiday season comes around, this place turns manically busy!


Catering: Bar and Grill, Burger King, Costa, Eat & Drink Co., Greggs, Kelly's of Cornwall Ice Cream Parlour, West Cornwall Pasty Co., Costa Express, Krispy Kreme Shops: Ladbrokes, M&S Simply Food, WHSmith Main Amenities: Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Full Hou$e, Lucky Coin, Picnic Tables, Showers Motel: Travelodgebook Forecourt: BP, Shop, Costa, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Air1 AdBlue, Car Wash

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £15 and HGVs, caravans and motorhomes £24, or £25.50 to include a £10 food voucher.

Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details. The location code is 2436.

The fees are strictly enforced by CP Plus.

Trivia and History

Firstly, Exeter is the most southern motorway service station in the UK. Simply put, the services are very short on space. The amenity building and car park both have a huge increase in custom during the summer holidays. There is still a grass bank which can be used for walking dogs. There is a particularly high demand for advertisements here, usually showcasing various Devon attractions.

The services were referred to as Sandy Gate in planning, but opened as Exeter. Only one bid to run the services was received, and after some negotiation, Granada won the contract. The services officially opened in 1978, but in 1977 a temporary takeaway building opened. The site is 19.5 acres in size and cost £1,675,000 to build, an investment which Granada (who were not enjoying the industry they were in) said they would not have made anywhere else.

When opened the two roundabouts outside the services would have been significantly quieter than they were today, however it was always the intention to surround the services with an industrial estate. The stipulation for the services required a lorry park and transport café be built, but with a warning that a rival lorry park may be opening up opposite. In 1993 there were plans for a separate truck driver's wash room which fell through. Granada have also considered a caravan park here, with laundry facilities.

The Granada Lodge opened in 1986, utilising private land technically not part of the main service area development.

Until 1997 the toilets were accessed directly from the car park, alongside a shop, restaurant, and new Burger King. A roof was then provided over all these doors to direct people towards the shops. This entry layout remains to this day. The building being to the north of the site, and the picnic area on the top of the hill, were the Department for Transport's suggestion.

Brand Changes

Exeter was the only one with ever to have a Harry Ramsden's waitress service, which was built into the hotel. The restaurant stayed here many years after all the other motorway sites had closed.

In March 2006 the services gained a M&S store, which was opened by Exeter FC manager Alex Inglethorpe.

It has a large food court area which is now home to three Costas - at one point it only offered a restaurant with no coffee options. EDC was further scaled back in March 2014 when an internal Greggs store opened. There is also a separate, unrelated Greggs branch in the industrial estate opposite.

In 2000 there were plans for Granada 2Go to be fitted to the front of the services. Granada wanted to use the parcel of land near the entrance to set up a separate shop and car park. There were later plans to extend the lobby area, putting a Costa stand within it.

A separate building housed one of the English Tourist Board tourist information centres on the motorway network, which closed and in 1999 became Ladbrokes. Around the same time there was an ice cream kiosk operating in the car park, but it was ordered to move, replacing a picnic box. The haphazard array of extensions and facilities was noted at the time.

Survey Results

Use with care. Outdated surveys have been included for interest only.

The services have a history of fours: in May 2012 and August 2011 Visit England rated the services as 4 stars and liked its environmental credentials.

In 2006 the services were graded 4/5 by Holiday Which?.

Also in 2006, the services won a four star loo award. In 2005 it was five stars.

A 1978 government review described the services as "the best" - but it hadn't been open long at the time!

The temporary café was visited by Egon Ronay in 1977, who described it as "appalling". He particularly didn't like the chicken flavoured soup served which he said was served in a "cardboard cup with more flavour than it".


Cullompton (12 miles)Services on the M5 none on M5
Kennford (A38 northbound, 8 miles)
Whiddon Down (A30, 20 miles)
Tiverton (16 miles)
Bridgwater (38 miles)
Moto services none

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