Motorway Services Online

Retrieved from ""

Watford Gap services

Watford Gap
Facilities | Rating | ReviewsWatford Gap services
Road:M1 between J16 and J17

Address:Watford Gap Motorway Services Area
Telephone number:01327 879001
Signposted from the road?As McDonald's/Costa
(most facilities 1960, rebuilt 1980s)
Previous operators:Blue Boar
Grid reference:SP599680
Services type:Two sites located between junctions, connected by a pedestrian footbridge.
Visit Watford Gap/Roadchef's official website

Possibly the most famous service station name in the country - so it's a bit of a shame that it looks no different from most others. Still, given that it has been there for almost 60 years, it's quite an achievement that it's able to keep up with the others.


Catering: Chozen Noodle, Costa, Fresh Food Café, McDonald's, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme
northbound only: Carvery Express
southbound only: Lavazza coffee
Shops: Fone Bitz, WHSmith
northbound only: Cotton Traders, Leaf Gifts
Main Amenities: Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Game On, Jackpot £500, Showers
southbound only: Regus Express
Motel: Days Innbook (southbound only) Forecourt: BP, BP Connect, Wild Bean Café, AdBlue Containers

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £20 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £23, or £25 to include a £10 food voucher.

Prices are paid using PayByPhone - more details or in the shop or restaurant. The location code is 5252 (northbound) and 5253 (southbound).

The fees are strictly enforced by CP Plus.

Trivia and History

Cramped but popular - the original restaurant.

Full details: History:Watford Gap

The traditional 'gateway to the north', Watford Gap probably manages to be both Britain's most famous and most infamous motorway service area. It has also managed to convince the world's press that it's the oldest.

Going right back to the days of The Blue Boar, Watford Gap has seen highs and lows that have all shaped Britain's motoring culture.

Recent History

Watford Gap was where Roadchef tried WHSmith. It was a success and has since been rolled out at all their services.

In 2010, a large redevelopment of the northbound services saw a new entrance created, and the restaurant reduced from a large RestBite servery to a smaller Hot Food Co. counter. In 2012, this was changed to RoadCcef's trial restaurant Fresh Food Café.

A Pizza Rossa was trialled on the northbound side for a short while within the Fresh Food Café unit, but it was unsuccessful. They were also going to open another unit in Norton Canes but this never happened.

A Carvery Express outlet opened here on the northbound side in September 2015, a first for a Roadchef service area.

Survey Results

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

In 2015, Visit England rated both sides of the services as 3 stars. In May 2012, the southbound side dropped down to 2 stars, but in August 2011, both sides were again 3 stars.

In 2006, Holiday Which? rated the services at 3/5.

In 1991, a Which? survey rated the services as "average".

In 1986, Which? said the restaurant was "small but comfortable", and that the services were "drab but clean".

In 1977 Egon Ronay rated the services as poor. He said it was clean and appreciated the hanging baskets, but described some of the food as "nasty".


Northampton (10 miles)Services on the M1 Leicester Forest East (24 miles)
Corley (M6, 23 miles)
Northampton (10 miles)Roadchef services Tibshelf (67 miles)
Norton Canes (M6 Toll, 54 miles)

Visitor Feedback

Views expressed in these comments are those of the individual contributor. They are moderated by Facebook.