Wheelchair-Accessible Indie Cafes and Coffee Shops in York

pippa sat at table wearing jumper and looking down at tea cup in hands, with tea pot on table in front

This post is not regularly updated. Always double-check access information online before you visit!

If you’ve ever visited York, you’ll know it’s an absolute goldmine for cute and quirky independent businesses. You could visit a different indie coffee shop for breakfast every weekend, and before becoming a wheelchair, that’s pretty much what I aspired to do.

Finding wheelchair-accessible cafes in York for a cuppa and a bite to eat can be really difficult, especially when you’re trying to stay away from bigger chains and support local businesses and tourist attractions instead.

Sadly, there’s a real lack of accessibility awareness in York City Centre, even though it’s a well-known touristy spot. The council have taken a very questionable approach to inclusion in recent years, and many organisations are quick to offer excuses of listed buildings or spaces being too small to make accommodations. In my eyes, it’s a real shame that places are rarely open to liaising with disabled visitors and at least trying to improve their accessibility.

That said, there are still a fair few lovely spots committed to welcoming disabled visitors. I reckon we should be shouting about how brilliant they are – they’re definitely the ones who’ll be getting all my pennies. So with that in mind, let’s have a moment of appreciation for the following…

[Please do not republish this list without seeking permission. Yep, I do see you and I do find out. Shall we just…not?]

Level Access

Drift- In York

interior of drift in york, featuring counter and blackboard menu along with snacks
Drift-In Interior, Nessgate

1-3 Nessgate, York YO1 9NP

“Drift-In York, is a hub of activity, caffeine-fuelled ideas, and delicious smoothies, with an endearing atmosphere perfect for meeting with friends, colleagues as a well the whole family. Our food selection here is varied, fresh, simple and tasty, with hearty toasted ciabattas, super salads, and grab and go sandwiches along with packed yoghurt granola and fruit pots, and a huge array of cakes and pastries to satisfy even the most specialist pallets.”

The accessible entrance is via FatFace clothes shop (men’s section) next door, which is a gently sloped ramp. Head inside the shop and then turn right, and wait by the doorway for a member of staff to notice and seat you. Usually orders are placed and paid for at the till, but for people using mobility aids, staff members are happy to come over and take orders and payment from your table.

Merchants’ Coffee House

The Hall, Fossgate, York, YO1 9XD

“Open to all, come and meet friends, family and colleagues for delicious food and drink in the inspiring setting of our medieval guildhall, or relax outside in our beautiful walled garden in fine weather.”

“The Hall is fully accessible with level access from the Fossgate entrance. The main entrance on Piccadilly (opposite the Coppergate Centre) has steps down into the gardens.”

The accessible entrance is about a five-minute detour around the back of the hall and down some side streets, which are slightly cobbly and uneven. Keep the building in your sight and you’ll come to a marked entrance with a path that leads you directly through the gorgeous gardens to the outdoor seating area.


York’s Chocolate Story

King’s Square, York YO1 7LD

“The perfect destination for chocolate lovers to pick up a deliciously decadent snack, our Chocolate Café is open daily from 10am. We stock a huge range of fabulous handmade brownies and tray bakes. For those looking to share our legendary luxurious Chocolate Fondue for Two or a scrumptious Chocolate Afternoon Tea is the perfect option!”

The whole Chocolate Story experience itself is accessible, with level entry and wide doorways, and the café can be found on the ground floor near the gift shop.

Micklegate Social

148 Micklegate, York YO1 6JX

“Beautiful corner property overlooking the walls. Specialty coffee, ten craft beer lines, and fresh food.”

I haven’t visited this venue myself but according to staff, “Micklegate Social is fully accessible with a flush threshold and a disability loo on the ground floor. The front door’s a bit heavy though, to push open I think. Unfortunately, the downstairs basement room is not wheelchair accessible”. Please note that the Fossgate location, Fossgate Social, is not accessible.


Sketch Café, York Art Gallery

“Serving a unique blend of freshly prepared food and great coffee, our café gives you the perfect start or end to your visit. Our outdoor seating area overlooks the beautiful fountain to the front of the Gallery on Exhibition Square. Glance up to see York Theatre Royal, Petergate and the adjoining City Walls, and, of course, the magnificent York Minster.”

The full venue is accessible with two permanent gently-sloped ramps outside the main entrance. The café is located on the ground floor, with the counters and tables spaciously laid-out and fairly easy to navigate around.

Double Dutch Pancake House

EDIT, MARCH 2022: The single-level-access table at Double Dutch Pancake House is no longer in operation due to social distancing measures, but have been assured there will be improved options again soon. As of Sept 2022, this has still not been resolved.

flatlay of four breakfast pancakes and hot drinks at double dutch pancake house
Double Dutch Pancake House, Church Street

7 Church Street, York, YO1 8BG

“Whenever we’d say ‘we’re having pancakes at our house…’ you’d guarantee we’d be feeding a crowd. That’s something we’ve always loved and now everyone’s welcome to come to our house for pancakes! We hope to see you soon.”

Please note this venue is not universally accessible – there is one table next to the door at the entrance, before the flights of stairs, that’s a tight squeeze but accessible. I’ve just managed it in a power-chair a couple of times, and as it’s often busy, there’s no guarantee the table will be available. But I couldn’t resist adding this one to the list since their menu being delicious and particularly accommodating of dietary requirements!

EDIT, MARCH 2022: The single level-access table at Double Dutch Pancake House is no longer in operation due to social distancing measures, but have been assured there will be improved options again soon. As of Sept 2022, this has still not been resolved.

York Theatre Royal Café

St. Leonard’s Place, York, YO1 7HD

“The theatre has a beautifully airy front of house area, with café, bars and various seating areas, suitable for everyone. You can also order brunch, dinner and light bite options, with up to eight daily specials – all home made in our kitchen using the best locally sourced ingredients.”

Level access is available via the main entrance, with automatic doors, and the café is located on the ground floor. Unless crowded due to a show, it’s a calm and open space that’s easy to navigate.

Instagram story screenshot featuring view from rowntree park reading cafe, including sunshine and river
View from Rowntree Park Reading Cafe

Rowntree Park Reading Café

Rowntree Park Lodge, Richardson Street, York YO23 1JU

“Relax and enjoy Organic, Fairtrade coffee, Suki loose leaf teas, homemade cakes and freshly prepared lunches whilst enjoying a book or today’s paper.”

This one is further out of town and can be reached via a lovely riverside walk, but it’s one of my absolute favourites. The park and surrounding area are made up of flat walkways, and there’s a sloped concrete path leading up to the café itself: uphill, but not too steep at all. Such a lovely indoor and outdoor spot to enjoy a cuppa with a good book!

Ramps/ Assistance Available On Request

Betty’s Café Tea Rooms York

 6-8 St. Helen’s Square, York YO1 8QP

“In Bettys York we provide a small access ramp at the front door for wheelchair access.”

I’ve only ever visited Betty’s as a non-wheelchair user, but the close layout of the tables and the number of staff walking around with trolleys and trays make me wary of the idea of navigating through the tea rooms. Regardless, staff are always attentive, there’s apparently a functioning lift inside the main tea rooms, and it’s a must-see stop for tourists. When there’s a will there’s a way…right?

countess of york train carriage tea room, taken from seating below
Countess of York Tea Room (Wheelchair Lift Out Of Shot)

Countess of York, National Railway Museum

Leeman Rd, York, YO26 4XJ

“Indulge your taste buds with one of York’s finest luxury afternoon tea experiences, from the comfort of our beautifully restored rail carriage—the Countess of York.”

Based in the outdoor area of the National Railway Museum, situated near York Train Station, there is a wheelchair-accessible lift up alongside the steps that lead to the iconic rail carriage venue. There’s obviously a step to get into the carriage, but ramps were visibly ready to go and staff eager to help. I haven’t dined here myself, but I did recently check out the rest of the Railway Museum and found it to be surprisingly accessible. All areas of the museum have step-free access by lifts or ramps, and staff have been commended by other disabled visitors for their attentiveness.

The Pig and Pastry

35 Bishopthorpe Road, YO23 1NA

“We serve Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Sandwiches, Salads, Daily Changing Specials, Home Baking, relationship advice, Tripadvisor bribes and more…”

This café on Bishy Road is accessed via a small ramp suitable for mobility aids. The doorway is narrow and often has curtains drawn across it, but in the past, I’ve managed to get through and seated when using both a manual wheelchair and my power-chair. Although there’s not a great deal of room inside for wheelchair use, and it’s often full and busy, staff and local customers are helpful in arranging tables and chairs around in order to assist.


And there you have it – some of the very best wheelchair-accessible cafes in York. We still have a long old way to go with accessibility in York, especially for independent businesses, but I hope this goes to show there are still some great options out there. If you’re a disabled person visiting York, pay these lovely venues a visit and have a cuppa (oat milk, no sugar please) on my behalf. And pfffff, go on then, I suppose I’ll have a free-from cake or two as well…

If you visit any of the above yourself, I’d love to hear about your experiences and any feedback. And if you have any recommendations of your own, please do share!

If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in my other Accessible York posts too. You can also follow along on social media using the hashtag #AccessibleYork!

5 Responses

  1. I agree with you about accessible cafes. In my local town the good independent cafes, there are 3, only 1 is fully accessible. Another has a small step and the third has 3 big steps and no accessible entrance.

    just because I use a mobility scooter shoud not exclude me from being able to socialise and enjoy tea/coffee.

    The feeble excuses make me cross

    1. So sorry to hear about your experiences Patrick – I completely agree. Fingers tightly crossed the situation improves and people become more conscious of it (across the UK) over the coming years!

  2. Hi Pippa, thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I was just despairing at the thought of phoning round independent coffee shops to ask about their accessibility and when I asked Google to show accessible coffee York – didn’t not expect a helpful result. As a permanent wheelchair user, I’m very happy to find your website. I am surprised how many coffee shops don’t even have a small ramp available. Since the closure of many of the streets in York its even more of a challenge.

    1. Oh I’m so glad it’s come in helpful, thank you Belinda! Just a heads up – after re-reading the post today (24/01/22), I’ve removed Spring Espresso as they’ve proved to be one of the worst offenders when it comes to blocking dropped kerbs with pavement seating these last couple of years and been very hostile towards people who’ve raised this with them. Hope you manage to find somewhere lovely for a cuppa!

  3. Not having a standard wheelchair mine is slightly wider I can’t access most shops now. If I need the post office now located right at the back of wh smith I often knock things off the shelves. Most cafés and bakeries I can’t get in to. Get in to the larger stores. Banks,boots what was bhs. Boyes is accessible but then the isles get narrower meaning having to reverse. I can access the food stalls on the market. I just hope york opens up again to blue badge holders.

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