Everybody knows the key to a good night out: good venues, good drinks, good company. Not everybody knows the key to a good night out as a disabled person largely centres simply around accessibility and logistics. The simple notion of being able to turn up to a new location and not worry about whether or not you can physically access the building is something of a privilege when you’re using mobility aids… and nobody wants barriers of this kind standing in the way of a good old G&T.
So, inspired by my previous wheelchair-accessible indie coffee shops piece, today I’m sharing some of the more accessible venues for a drink or two in York. I would’ve loved to have showcased primarily independent businesses in the following list, the way I did for the coffee shops, but unfortunately, we’re just not quite there yet. That said, if you have a favourite haunt that should be on this list, please do let me know!
Right then. Let’s get into it…
“Stonegate Yard is situated in a beautiful Georgian townhouse on Little Stonegate, one of York’s premier destinations for the discerning shopper and diner”.
One of my favourite spots for a drink or a bite to eat, Stonegate Yard is made up of an outdoor courtyard with heaters, and also indoor seating within the historic building. The outdoor courtyard is easily accessible from the streets of York (well, as easily as one can be in a city made up primarily of cobbles), and staff can provide a ramp should you wish to venture inside.
However, staff have informed me that ‘Unfortunately due to the building being listed, we are unable to make many changes to the layout and this has meant that our only toilet facility is located on the 2nd floor up a flight of stairs. We do have many wheelchair users dine with us, we always let people know on arrival (if we haven’t been given prior warning of the toilet situation), so that everyone is as informed as possible from the get go’… so please do bear this in mind should you wish to pay a visit.
“Get a taste of delicious Latin America in York at Las Iguanas! Our restaurant on Back Swinegate in York’s city centre offers a taste of the tropics with all the sizzling Latin American favourites alongside an impressive range of cocktails. Las Iguanas York is perfect for big parties, cosy corners, family time, lunch or cocktails at the bar. Don’t miss the hidden garden rooftop – perfect for alfresco dining & drinks all year round.”
Staff have confirmed that the ‘entrance level is suitable for disabled people’, with a fully-equipped toilet located in the downstairs area. During the warmer summer months, there’s also an operational lift for guests to access the venue’s roof terrace… something I’m hoping to try out this year!
Tank and Paddle
“Our drinks menu showcases regional brews such as Brew York and Ilkley Pale, trendy craft beers, cask ales such as Black Sheep and Roosters and is the first northern bar to feature big tanks of Meantime’s Brewery Fresh!
We also offer a wide range of gins that include regional favourites, Yorkshire Dales Distillery alongside classic blends like Slingsby. Customers will also have the opportunity to experience Gin masterclasses, learning all there is to know about the spirit, how to select the right garnishes and how to recreate their favourite tipples.”
Tank and Paddle is a personal favourite of mine, situated right next to the scenic riverside in York. There’s slightly sloped level access to get into the building, and then a wheelchair lift to take you down the equivalent of a few steps to the main floor.
However, do be aware that a staff member has to activate the lift before you can actually use it; quite a problematic process given you’re not usually within the sight of anybody when you come in through the door. On previous visits, I’ve had to either text friends to come and rescue me, or ask strangers to go and alert staff members for me. Very much not ideal and representing a lack of autonomy, but I do feel it’s worth it. The floor itself, when you make it down, is wide and spacious, and you can also access the outdoor balcony on the same level. Plus, it’s the home of good gin, as you may have seen on my Instagram last year…
Slug and Lettuce
“Fantastic variety of continental beers, extensive quality wines and champagne. Great range of cocktails as well as local cask ales available. Few minutes’ walk from the famous shambles area. Situated on Low Ousegate overlooking the River Ouse.”
Riverside: The following information was provided by staff – “We are wheelchair accessible, our front door is through a level access. We also have a ramp in the venue, a disabled toilet and offer a portable ramp that our staff can put down to get to those areas with steps.”
Swinegate: The following information was provided by staff – “We are floor level entry so no problems there, we have disabled facilities also on that level. We have a ramp (permanent) that leads to our raised area on one side, which accommodates a total of around 60 guests seated. Our bar is not lowered at any point regrettably, however it is on the ground level and we have a PED card machine for payments located in a better position for anyone who needs to pay this way.
The other side of our bar is regrettably up a single step to this section and we do not have a ramp for access to this area. We are incredibly popular with wheelchair users already, as well as carers and people who use pushchairs for children”.
“Individually styled chain bar with a global menu of comfort-food classics and nightly happy hours.”
You can always count on Revs for a classic girls’ night out, and the York venue is in a location both scenic and convenient for those coming in and out of the city centre. Staff provided the following information: “Here at Revolution we are fully accessible via wheelchair. Our access is at ground level and we have a lift available for access to the 1st floor.”
The Last Drop Inn
“Old-school boozer serving well-kept cask ales and simple pub grub, particularly sausages.”
I haven’t visited this venue myself (although it’s been on my radar for a while), however from walking past, it appears as though there is level access into the building. The following review was left on Tripadvisor: “Please note that you can get in the pub in a wheelchair in the front area of the bar. The toilets are upstairs though so please bear this in mind”.
“For all of us at BrewDog, craft beer is more than something to be enjoyed on a Friday night when the week has come to an end. It is a way of life. If you had to distil this point into a single word, it would be passion. The enthusiasm for being involved in this industry, and for delivering the greatest levels of service and beer quality is inherent in everything that we do, each and every day of the week. Including Friday nights. And that won’t ever change.”
Although I can’t put my hand up and say I’m a craft beer fan myself, BrewDog is incredibly popular and I’ve found myself in there with friends on a fair few occasions. The York venue has level access through their side-door, and a ramp that takes you up to the main bar area, although unfortunately other areas are only accessible by steps. There’s a wheelchair-accessible toilet indoors, also located via a ramp. My blogger pal Hollie also speaks highly of the food and access in this place!
I do think it’s a shame that research didn’t uncover more lovely accessible options (with comprehensive information online) in the city centre, but I hope at the very least this post serves as a starting point for your visit. Should you pop into any of the above venues yourself, I’d love to hear about your experiences and any feedback. And, of course, if you have any recommendations of your own, please do share!