Motorway Services Online

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Got a question about opening hours? Motorway services will be open for snacks, fuel and toilets - more details.


This article concerns the facilities section of each services page, an example of which can be found here.

Parts of this are complicated, so the best way to get a good grasp of it is to look at examples by logging in and selecting 'edit'.

The Structure

The information should be split into four categories; restaurants, shops, main amenities ("general") and hotels, with a final section for the facilities available at the petrol station. Each facility should then be separated by commas, giving you this:
{{facilities|Restaurant| Burger King, Costa, EDC, Greggs, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme }}
{{facilities|Shops| Fone Bitz, M&S Simply Food, WHSmith }}
{{facilities|Amenities| Children's Play Area, Full Hou$e, Showers }}
{{facilities|Hotel| Travelodge }}
{{Charging Points| Tesla Supercharger, Ecotricity, IONITY }}
{{facilities|Forecourt| BP, Shop, Costa Express, LPG }}

The Charging Points shown in the middle there obviously looks a little different. It has been shown on this list because it often appears in the middle, but there is no need to worry about how it works just yet - focus on the others.

For motorway services in the UK, all five sections should be given. For services in Ireland, the 'hotel' section may be omitted. For A-road services, blank sections can be omitted.

There is no particular rule for the order which brands should be listed in. Best practice is to organise restaurants by: Major Units, Smaller Units, Cabinets, Drive Thrus. Forecourts should be: Oil Brand, Shop Brands, Pump Types, Car Washes.


One of the first lessons in Wikicode is that you can (and should) create a link by surrounding that item in square brackets. So, [[KFC]] gives you KFC. This should be done if that facility has a page in the Brands section, or if one is likely to be created. If one isn't likely to be created, no link is needed.

Links can be created with two types of bracket: square ( [[ ) and curly ( {{ ). Square simply creates a link. Curly invokes a template, and is therefore the better option - if the relevant template exists. To understand why different ones work at different times, you have to understand a little bit about how the site works. Don't worry if you glaze over the next few paragraphs - so long as one person knows, we'll always be able to fix any issues! For more seasoned editors, we would stress it's vital the following process is understood - convoluted and outdated it may be, but it's the thinking power behind Services Search, Map:Services, and so many other key features.

We can read the list of facilities above and work out exactly what facilities there are. But computers aren't clever enough to work it out (or at least the ones which run this website aren't). They like to follow processes, and this is what they do:

When someone uses Services Search (or another script), a lot happens behind the scenes:

  1. The website gets a list of every page on the website.
  2. The website lists the categories the user has requested. This will be Category:Services, and any more specific ones.
  3. The website then checks all those categories, and removes any pages which aren't in all those categories.
  4. If a particular brand has been requested, the categories won't be helpful enough. Instead, it checks Category:Facility Templates, and looks for every page which invokes the template of the brand being requested. In English this means if you've asked for WHSmith, the website is now actively looking for the line {{WHSmith}}, but of course it doesn't think about it like that - the website thinks it is simply checking two lists to see if they match.
  5. Now it has a list of all the relevant services with the brand requested. But it will check the template (curly brackets) to see if any more information has been provided which the user may want to know. We'll explain how this part can be used further on.

Ultimately, {{WHSmith}} will only work if the script at "Template:WHSmith" exists - in this case it does, but if your brand doesn't, you can still go ahead and wait for someone else to create it for you, or you can create it yourself by copying the code from an existing template.

Once a template is created, it should be used in every Facilities section - otherwise we'll end up with a search engine which only delivers half the results. If a brand doesn't have many branches and therefore doesn't need to appear in the search engine, creating a template would do no harm, but it would also have no benefit.

Single-side Facilities

When templates (curly brackets) are being used, it's important that the system knows if a facility is on one side of the road only. To us, a single-side facility is one where you have to go outside in order to access it from the other side of the road. Facilities which are all under one roof are regarded as all on the same side, as it's a walk many will be willing to make. Yes that's not always the case, but the line has to be drawn somewhere to keep things simple.

{{Burger King|W}} will add a tag to say Burger King is on the westbound side of the road only. More importantly, it will update the map at the time time.

With too many of these tags it becomes messy, but when you're using templates it's still important that they're used. To address this, we have a silencer. {{Burger King|W|s}} will tell the map and search results that the facility is westbound only, but will not do anything to your page. On the page, you can then use this to say that Burger King and Costa are only on the westbound side:

{{facilities|Restaurant| FACILITIES ON BOTH SIDES GO HERE |W= {{Burger King|W|s}}, {{Costa|W|s}} }}

In the script above, we have a section for facilities on both sides, and a section reserved for westbound facilities only. Note that the |W and the |s parts are still very important - one to explain to the system that it's westbound only, and one to stop it writing that on this page. This will create: "westbound only: Burger King, Costa".

Technically, it doesn't matter whether you put facilities on both sides in the central section, or whether you list them twice on a |W= and a |E= part of the script. The second option explained should be used only where there is one service station with two very different buildings. For anything, it looks messy, and is easy to get wrong.

This is all a bit complicated, so it's helpful to remember why we're doing it. {{Burger King|W}} tells the search engine that Burger King is on the westbound side only, and that's important information which the system has to know, no matter how you decorate the page.

When you're not using a template (using square brackets or no link instead), no information is sent to the search engine, so the detail doesn't matter. Even so, you'll want to make sure that the whole page uses a similar style.

Single-side Hotels

In the case of hotels, it should only be marked as being only one side of the road if there is no provision for drivers on the other side. At some hotels, drivers on the other side will be asked to pull over and use the authorised access only bridge. This is fine, but if it asks drivers on the other side to turn around at the next junction (or to walk across a pedestrian footbridge) it should be marked as being on one side of the road only as anyone could give that advice.


On motorways and a-roads, wherever possible references to hotels should include a link to the hotel's official website.

  • For Ibis Budget, put {{Ibis Budget| |CODE1|CODE2}}. The two codes can be found by visiting the hotel's page on their website, the first one is a numerical code after '.../gb/hotel-' and before '-etap-hotel-etap-hotel-', and the second code is the hotel's name and comes after that and before '/index.shtml'. Here is an example for Beaconsfield - the two codes (in order) are shown in bold:
  • For Travelodge, put {{Travelodge| |CODE}}. As with Ibis Budget, you can find the code by finding the hotel's page on their website and looking at the address - in this case the code is the number at the very end.
  • For Ramada, put {{Ramada| |CODE}}. As with Travelodge, you can find the code by finding the hotel's page on their website and looking at the address.
  • For Days Inn, put {{Days Inn| |CODE}}, or for Days Hotel put {{Days Inn| |CODE|hotel=yes}}. Annoyingly the only way to find the code is to find the hotel on Welcome Break and then follow the link to Days Inn's, where there will be five digits in the address.
    • For Days Inn operated by Roadchef, put {{Days Inn||CODE|rc=yes}}, where the code comes from the page address after 'days-inn-'.

(The spaces before 'CODE' are needed to avoid an error on the map pages.) If the hotel is only accessible to one side of the road, you can use the features introduced in the previous section as follows: {{Travelodge|N|CODE|s}}

Other Complications

Large Petrol Stations

Most services have at least two buildings: an amenity building selling food and a forecourt building selling fuel. For this, we list everything in the amenity building over amenities, food and shops. Everything in the forecourt building gets listed in the 'forecourt' section only.

An increasing number of small services have just one building, which sells fuel and food. To cram everything under the 'forecourt' heading would look silly, so some common sense is required.

In these cases, if the forecourt building has two sets of doors - one leading to a car park and the other to the pumps - then amenities, food, shops and fuel should all be listed separately. There is no need to duplicate items. However, if it's not possible to walk in to the services without walking through the petrol station, it might be worth listing everything under 'fuel'.

Picnic Tables

It's important all the facility lists are written in the same format as they are surely the most important feature in our "guide". Sometimes, this means arbitrary and frankly odd rules are required to make decisions.

To us, a landscaped area with several tables on it designed to be a fairly pleasant place to eat outdoors is a Picnic Area. Anything else is recorded as Picnic Tables.

Also, cash machines are only recorded if they're free, and as the times have changed telephones and wifi are no longer worth mentioning.

What Counts?

It's becoming increasingly common for service areas to act as a gateway to a larger retail or business park development. It would be unmanageable and unhelpful to try to list every facility in the retail park, which could include shops, industrial facilities and hotels. Instead, we should only list the facilities which are clearly attached to the main service area, and are clearly related to roadside use.