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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
Grid reference:SP599680 (SABRE Maps)
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 other services. 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, Typhoo
northbound only: Carvery Express, Costa Drive Thru
Shops: Fone Bitz, WHSmith Main Amenities: Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Game On, Jackpot £500, Showers
southbound only: Regus Express
Motel: Days Innbook 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 £26, or £28 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.

Last updated December 2017.

Trivia and History

Old restaurant.
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.

The filling stations are operated by BP Express.

Recent History

Watford Gap was where Roadchef trialled 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 Roadchef's trial restaurant Fresh Food Café.

Pizza Rossa was trialled on the northbound side for a short while within the Fresh Food Café unit, but it wasn't continued. They were also going to open another unit in Norton Canes but this never happened.

A Carvery Express unit 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 Spring 2017, Transport Focus calculated a 93% satisfaction score for the northbound services and 83% for the southbound services.

In 2015, VisitEngland 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.

A 1995 review in The Independent gave the services two stars, calling it small and utilitarian but also "adequate and pleasant".

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)

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