LOCATION: This site is on the ultra-busy M25 and is easily accessible clockwise and anti-clockwise. The site is part of Cobham Services so benefits from countdown signage on the motorway. Once you come off the motorway, it’s easy to find your way to the forecourt as you can see the bright Shell signs.
FORECOURT: Fuel pricing is eye-watering but that’s what you expect on a motorway particularly the M25. There are 36 pump islands and attendants are present to fill up your car. The one who served me was very polite and proudly explained that he had been trained by the AA.
Shell’s V-Power is promoted heavily above each pump, as is the Fill Up & Go payment service. A separate area houses the new Shell Hydrogen supply.
As soon as you enter the shop you are greeted by a bright Shell-yellow anti-bacterial wet wipes stand, which is really handy. Next, there is a display of oil with a touchscreen that helps you choose the right oil.
There’s a small magazine display with a section called ’Information from Shell’.
There are several Costa Express machines and you can pick up your cup at one of these or at a separate dispenser at the till points good for that last-minute impulse purchase for the onward journey. For tea lovers, there’s a PG Tips2Go machine.
As you would expect, there was a wall of Red Bull in the chiller, which was supported by an offer. The soft drinks’ chiller also included signage telling shoppers which drinks were included in the meal deal. The meal deal was £4.50 but you have to remember it’s a motorway service area.
There was a limited range of beers, wines and spirits but there was a gondola end with ’Great deals to go’ featuring lager, cider and certain wines. In fact there were offers throughout the store.
There was a good pick ’n’ mix display. But lots of healthier snacks were available too in the chiller there were small packs of fruit as well as sushi.
A freestanding display promoted Shell’s new hot wraps and there were plenty of these in the hot food display.
The grocery range was limited but included the essentials.
There seemed to be an abundance of soft toys and there was also a high-vis jacket display.
There’s a small seating area where consumers are encouraged to ’Relax and Recharge’. Sockets were freely available to recharge devices and there was a rack for newspapers, but it was empty.
The toilets are clean and enhanced by graphics on the doors depicting fresh flowers.
There were lots of staff one cleaning the toilets, others topping up the shelves.
At the tills there are screens with info about the traffic.
Motorway service company Extra invested approximately £75m in Cobham Services. The company said its aim was to create an exceptional motorway service area between London Heathrow and Gatwick airports. The forecourt houses Shell’s first hydrogen refuelling station in the UK, as part of its aim to encourage the use of alternative fuels.
What can I say? This is an excellent site, especially when you consider how busy it is. My visit was on a Saturday and there was a constant stream of vehicles fuelling up. That they could do so so quickly and efficiently is testament to Shell’s expertise.
It’s difficult to say anything negative about this site. It is focused on grab-and-go. Yes, there are seating facilities but you imagine that anyone who was serious about a break from the driving would head to the service area’s main building. And no, there is not much in the way of grocery or local lines but that’s not what this forecourt is for. It’s a quick pit stop to fill up your car, and possibly your stomach, and as such it ticks all the boxes.