Busy services positioned on a busy junction. Like all M5 service areas, Gordano will struggles under the summer holiday pressure, but its large building and surroundings means it copes fairly well - until you try to get back on to the roundabout.
Catering: Burger King, Chopstix Noodle Bar, KFC, Starbucks, Subway, The Good Breakfast, f'real Milkshakes, Jolly Rancher Slush, Krispy Kreme, Rollover, Starbucks on the Go, The Good Bakery, Starbucks Drive Thru Shops: Waitrose & Partners, WHSmith Amenities: Ramada, Changing Places, Game Zone, Showers Outdoor Space: Grass bank at back of car park; Picnic Tables Charging Points: GRIDSERVE Electric Highway 50kW CCS, 50kW CHAdeMO & 22kW Type 2; Tesla Supercharger 120kW Forecourt: Welcome Break, The Good Bakery, Chicago Town Pizza, Rollover, Starbucks on the Go, LPG (Calor)
First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £15 for a further 24 hours and HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £32 (or £34 to include a £12 meal voucher).
Prices can be paid in the shop, with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.
This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.
Gordano Motorway Services Area
Trivia and History
Gordano opened with a light brown building consisting of four hexagon-shaped domes, similar to what soon opened at Burtonwood. Forte loved hexagons.
The restaurant was carpeted, with bench-type seats and a Scandinavian-style strip-wood ceiling. An unusual layout within the toilets area means there is a separate entrance and exit, with the way out directing people into the food court.
Shortly after opening it gained a snack bar and AA shop in temporary buildings, and before long had a total of eight temporary buildings, including a St John's Ambulance building, scattered around the entrance. This was severely criticised for looking untidy. Some of the buildings were never removed, and in more recent years more outdoor stalls have been added to help manage the summer rush.
Angela Rippon's show on BBC Radio 2 broadcast live from the service area on 25 July 1986.
See also: M5 Service Area Planning
Gordano was the second service area to be built at a junction. With a large viaduct to the north and a split-level section of motorway to the south, there were very few alternative sites for a service area available, and the Department of the Environment considered building at a roundabout to be better than trying to build in a difficult location.
Today this junction suffers from severe congestion, especially during the summer months, and the road layout has been changed many times to try to deal with it. Even as early as the 1970s, the entrance had a make-shift filter lane from the M5 southbound to try to maximise the traffic flow.
Rank were allowed to bid for the service area despite them already running Aust, because not much traffic was expected to come from that direction. Taverna remained forbidden as they already owned Leigh Delamere.
In planning this site was sometimes referred to as Portbury services, while the government usually called it Easton-in-Gordano services.
The site got top marks in Holiday Which? Magazine's survey in 2006, it was said to have "stylish toilets" and the food was "as good as a local curry house". The toilets had cost £1,000,000 as part of a recent refurbishment scheme. Gordano was still beaten by Tebay on the M6.
The Starbucks drive thru was the first new-build drive thru coffee shop on the motorway. It replaced an old workshop building which was going to be re-used and turned into a KFC. That plan was changed to make it the service area's fourth (at the time) Starbucks counter, with its own seating area, but the workshop was in too poor a state to invite customers in to and had to be re-built.
During summer 2018, the former Days Inn hotel underwent a major refurbishment, rebranding to Ramada upon reopening. A large extension was also built to add more rooms, a new restaurant and bar and a fitness suite. This replaced a dedicated picnic and walking area in the woodland.
The filter lane was removed in 2020, at which point Highways England made the unusual decision to replace the old branded entrance sign, which hasn't been needed since the 1990s, with a new, white sign with the Welcome Break logo printed on it - an unusual combination which certainly isn't permitted.
In 2021, Which? Magazine ranked Gordano as the second-worst service area in the country, criticising its range of facilities and poor social distancing measures.
Welcome Break have trialled several new concepts here in recent years, all utilising the external kiosk situated at the front of the main building. Baskin Robbins was trialled here in summer 2014 and more recently Ben & Jerry's occupied the kiosk in summer 2021. The kiosk was also used to house Welcome Break's own-brand The Good Breakfast for a time before rebranding to Chicago Town Pizza in summer 2022. It was re-utilised in early 2023 as a new Welcome Break brand, 'The Good Spud', before changing to Phat Pasty in July 2023.
During early 2022, the site received several refurbishments which included bringing The Good Breakfast unit inside, re-utilising the former Harry Ramsden's unit. The WHSmith store was also refurbished, reopening on 25 March 2022 with its 'premium' upgrade including new ranges and a food to go area, which includes a new The Good Bakery hot food cabinet and f'real Milkshakes and Slush Puppie machines. The KFC unit also underwent a refurbishment and reopened on 1 April 2022.
The Good Breakfast briefly relocated back outside in early July 2022, while its old spot was refurbished to operate as a hybrid unit. Once this was done, the external kiosk was converted to Chicago Town Pizza, while the refreshed indoor unit opened its hybrid Chopstix Noodle Bar offer on 20 October 2022.
|Michaelwood (18 miles)|
Magor (M4 west, 14 miles)
Leigh Delamere (M4 east, 31 miles)
|Services on the M5||Sedgemoor (20 miles)|
|Michaelwood (18 miles)|
Sarn Park (M4 west, 49 miles)
Membury (M4 east, 58 miles)
|Welcome Break services||Sedgemoor (M5 northbound, 20 miles)|
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