Location: This motorway services area is off junction 2 of the M40.
Shell Beaconsfield has a massive forecourt with 34 pumps including one hydrogen pump and two Autogas ones. There is also separate space where HGVs can fill up. As one would expect from a motorway service area, fuel prices were eye-wateringly high at 139.9ppl for unleaded and 149.9ppl for diesel.
There is lots of signage for the new Jamie Oliver food-to-go range across the site, including lots of photos of the cheeky chef.
There’s a car wash and two air machines, although only one was working at the time of my visit.
Having a dispenser of anti-bacterial wet wipes just outside the shop was a nice touch.
The site is geared up for busy people who want to grab a snack and pay for their fuel.
A chiller next to a Costa Express machine is stacked with the new Jamie Oliver deli by Shell range and attracted quite a crowd during my visit. Mums, in particular, were choosing lunch with their children.
There are a further three Costa Express machines next to the main Jamie Oliver deli by Shell hot food counter. Here you can help yourself to Hot Stuff such as pastries with a twist as well as sandwiches, salads, curry pots and even an Egg, Beans & Bacon pot.
Overall it is a very well laid out, spacious store but there were a few problems.
There was an abandoned trolley full of Red Bull and water near the tills. And there is a small, top-up purchase grocery section, but you couldn’t get near it because there were cages of stock surrounding it.
Nearby there was an abandoned black sack of rubbish and a mop and bucket.
There’s a small seating area where you can recharge yourself and your devices.
Staff were excellent with their queue management. It’s an extremely busy site but there were lots of staff manning the tills and calling people forward so everyone got served relatively quickly. In addition, the staff still managed to be helpful and friendly. The chap who served me suggested I go and get a packet of crisps to complete the meal deal which I did and which saved me money.
The customer toilets were nice and clean but one of the door handles was broken. You could still get into the cubicle but it was a little tricky. It was good that the toilet flush and the taps were ’hands free’ so you could use them without having to touch them.
Last year this site became the first in the country to have hydrogen fuel dispensed by a pump under the same canopy as the other grades of fuel. Shell described this as ’a milestone’ and ’the start of a great journey into the future’.
The main reason for my visit to this site was to sample the new Jamie Oliver deli by Shell range which is described as ’A new direction for food on the go’. On the Shell website it says: "Together with Jamie we’ve created a fantastic new selection of products. We’ve gone the extra mile to give you a bigger, better choice with more than 80 new products on sale in over 500 of Shell’s service stations across the UK". I had a ’posh’ egg and tomato sandwich which was interesting because it had capers in it. My passenger had the sausage roll and was impressed by the amount of tasty meat there was inside it.
I know this is a very busy site and shop, but more attention needs to be given to the way restocking is managed. Having cages that block off an entire category is not good for business nor is an abandoned black bag of rubbish, which could easily tip over and spill out. I would recommend that the management remind staff that if they are called away from a job they are doing, such as to go to the till, they need to clear stuff away quickly before they go.