Rooftop Bars in York: 8 Places to Drink with a View

Published by: Bounce10 October, 2022

The historic city of York in England might not, at first glance, seem to be the place to house many rooftop bars. Take a more in-depth look, and you'll be surprised by just how many rooftop bars this cathedral city in the county of North Yorkshire has.

Admittedly, the views from many of the rooftop bars in York will be nearby chimney pots or the city's 13th-century Gothic cathedral, York Minster, but that in itself is not a bad thing. Without a doubt, there are far worse views to be had from rooftop bars in other UK cities, especially when you have to sit under an umbrella to see them.

While you might not be able to enjoy all of the rooftop bars and rooftop terraces in York all year round, there are a few that are closed so that you can frequent them during the rainy British months of January to December. If the sun is shining, forget about going shopping in York and visit as many rooftop bars on that day as you can. Guaranteed, it won't be long before the open-air rooftop bars are packing away the furniture or covering it with plastic sheeting to prevent it from getting wet.

If you've managed to get loaded down with bags and don't want to be, you'll find Bounce luggage storage in York a handy place to drop your stuff off for a few hours or even overnight. You can hire a Bounce luggage locker for less than half the price a fancy cocktail will cost you in most of the city's best rooftop bars. The super economical price includes a security tag and comprehensive insurance too. You won't find cheaper or safer bag storage in York.

Best Rooftop Bars In York

If you're hoping to find smart, sophisticated rooftop locations in York, like the rooftop bars in NYC in the States, you'll need to lower your expectations. The rooftop bars in York are not up to that high standard, nor do they have panoramic views, and there's not one with a retractable glass roof. The small yellow "welcome to York sign" with a cute bicycle should give you an indication of the quaint and charming surroundings you're in for.

You will come across one that's furnished in a casual backyard garden style and others that definitely have a rustic appeal. Some serve creative cocktails, while others just have a basic drink menu. Accept them for what they are, and you'll still have a fantastic time, especially with all the excellent food on offer.

Sora Sky Bar Rooftop Bar and Terrace

What it's like:

Sora Sky Bar is probably the highest rooftop bar you'll find in York. This rooftop bar and restaurant is located on the seventh floor of the city's Malmaison York Hotel, so it is well above the chimney tops.

There are two parts to this rooftop bar. One is the interior area which has a flash Asian-inspired décor which is an eye-teasing combination of gold lampshades, geometric floor tiles, and plush furnishings. The outside terrace has a calmer look and is decked out with comfortable sofas and armchairs.

Here the food is a mix of pan-Asian style, tapas, and sushi, which is so popular that you won't get a table to eat here unless you book in advance. Late evenings on the weekends, the restaurant develops a club atmosphere with top DJs and live music until two in the morning.

Our Recommendation:

Enjoy the Asian inspiration and go for one of their specialty cocktails, like a Cherry Blossom Negroni, followed by a sashimi platter and a glass of white wine.

Location:

Rougier Street, 2

The Habit

What it's like:

Arrive at the entrance of The Habit in York, and from the outside, it looks pretty much like a typical old-fashioned English cafe that will be serving nothing more than afternoon tea, sandwiches, and cakes. It's not. There's a lot more to The Habit than initially meets the eye.

Inside, The Habit is decorated in a way that can only be described as eclectic. It's a sort of disorganized style that wouldn't be out of place in a lordly country home. The best part is the roof terrace which has more rustic furnishings but is just as eclectic. It's a stone's throw from York Minster, so you can expect great views, which is one of its redeeming features, as is the excellent food they serve here.

This is British nosh at its best, so if you need a fortifying all-day breakfast, a healthy salad, or a juicy burger, you'll love The Habit's menu. They also have a great range of vegan options across the board, as well as a super selection of hot and cold drinks, but not specialty cocktails.

Our Recommendation:

If it's a grey and dismal day, brighten it up with a veggie stack burger and a frothy Mexican hot chocolate.

Location:

Goodramgate, 40

BoBos Cocktail Bar

What it's like:

Go to the rooftop terrace of York's BoBos Cocktail Bar, and you may need to wait for the clouds to clear before you can see the view. No, this bar isn't so sky-high that you'll be sitting among the nimbus, but you may find yourself having to waft away the shisha vapor.

The rooftop terrace of BoBos Cocktail Bar is dedicated to shisha, so if you're not into that, then you'll probably want to sit inside the stylish lounge bar area. You can make yourself comfortable without worrying about having to go home as this place is open seven days a week until 3 am.

At BoBos, they like to pull out all the stops when they're making cocktails and have won several awards for their delicious cocktails. If sipping out of a flaming tiki skull sounds as though it might liven up your visit to York, now you know where you can find one.

Our Recommendation:

Always keep your camera handy when you're at BoBos. The mixologists like nothing better than putting on a fire show, and you wouldn't want to miss getting some photos of that.

Location:

Little Stonegate, 5

Las Iguanas

What it's like:

The rooftop terrace of the Las Iguanas restaurant in York isn't posh or sophisticated, but it is a charming, down-to-earth, garden-style patio that anyone would be happy to spend a couple of hours at. It's the sort of spot where you can sit and chat with friends without being distracted by the views, and that's there's nothing to see here except brick walls.

When the weather isn't right for outdoor drinking and dining, then the lower-floor dining room is a good substitute. It's spacious and finished in a modern industrialist style with exposed pipework in the ceiling and renovated wood flooring.

Las Iguanas specializes in Latin American cuisine, which is great when it's chilly outside and just as good if it's sunny. An added bonus here is that you get two cocktails for the price of one. Yes, they will be the same cocktail, but when they're as good as the craft cocktails they prepare at Las Iguanas, drinking them is not too much of a hardship.

Our Recommendation:

Las Iguanas serves a bottomless brunch seven days a week from eleven in the morning onwards. Go for the brunch, and you'll have two hours to indulge in brunch-sized portions of meals from their main menu and as many cocktails as you can down in 120 minutes.

Location:

Back Swinegate, 21

Kennedy's Bar and Restaurant

What it's like:

It depends on what time of the year you're in York as to whether or not you'll be able to go up to the rooftop terrace of Kennedy's Bar and Restaurant. If you can't, you probably won't feel too deprived as the interior of Kennedy's is lush in an up-to-date pub-style way.

If you want the best of British fare while you're in York, then Kennedy's, rooftop open or not, is not a bad place to choose. Here on Sundays, you can tuck into a huge roast dinner with all the trimmings that will leave you wanting for nothing.

During the week, the menu is more varied, and you can choose between flatbreads, burgers, and some tasty small plates that go well with a draught lager. They don't serve cocktails here but have some great beers on tap and a good wine list.

Our Recommendation:

If you love burgers and have a good appetite, go to Kennedy's on a Wednesday. On Wednesdays, you can get two burgers for the price of one all day long. Their burgers go really well with a glass of Chardonnay.

Location:

Little Stonegate, 1

Pitcher and Piano

What it's like:

The Pitcher and Piano might not be a rooftop bar, but it is a pub in an amazing location. The Pitcher and Piano has a riverside location and a terrace that looks out over the water. It's a great view, even on a gray and misty day.

The interior of Pitcher and Piano is one where you could quite easily lounge an afternoon away sitting on the plush sofas and chairs while browsing through their extensive menu. They really do have just about every taste under the sun covered, plus they have super vegetarian options and an even better dessert menu.

Because Pitcher and Piano is part of a nationwide chain, they often have special offers for breakfast or lunchtime and promote seasonal cocktails like their Blueberry Rush, which is an autumn favorite.

Our Recommendation:

Go British. Start with a gin and tonic with ice and lemon, of course, then follow that with a plate of fish, chips, and peas with tartar sauce on the side for dipping. Sausage and mash with onion rings are pretty tasty too. Whichever you choose, save some room for sticky toffee pudding to finish with, or spoil yourself with another of their delicious cocktails.

Location:

Ebor Hall, Coney Street

1331 Bar and Grill

What it's like:

The 1331 Bar and Grill is really three places in one and perfect for when the British weather is being its typical inclement self. The bar is set out over three floors. The lower area is a restaurant, the upper level is a bar, and the attic has been converted into a cinema where you can see a film or view some sporting action. They also have a small patio in a back alley that's covered over, so it's usable even if it's a bit damp out.

Here they are open from 8 am until midnight every day of the week. They serve their breakfast menu throughout the day, swap to a different menu at 5 pm, and serve an additional lunchtime menu. These guys really do have every angle covered to keep their customers happy, including two-for-one cocktails day and night too.

Our Recommendation:

There are far too many amazing things on the menu at this lovely place to be able to recommend just one thing. Celebrate finding this place with a glass of prosecco while you read through the menu and decide what you're going to eat.

Location:

Grape Lane, 13 

Fancy Hank's Bar and Kitchen

What it's like:

Any US citizen visiting York that's missing home eventually finds their way to Fancy Hank's. Fancy Hank's occupies a two-story high premises in the city's historic district. There's nothing British about this bar and grill, though; it's all American right down to the diner-style tables and benches in the upper-floor dining room.

The menu at Fancy Hank's is inspired by southern street food, so here you can chow down on buttermilk chicken, chicken and waffles, incredible burgers, gumbo, and steak with white gravy. They also make some fantastic cocktails too with great names like Texas Pit Boss and Mississippi Til The Cows Come Home.

Our Recommendation:

Absolutely everything on the menu.

Location:

Goodramgate, 39

Conclusion

York may not have a Manhattan skyline, but the York city skyline is more of the rooftop and chimney pot kind. While most of the rooftop bars in York might not be what you'd class as uber-stylish, they do have their individual appeal. Yes, some of them may be a little idiosyncratic, but this is Britain, and that’s something the British are known for. Just know that regardless of where you drink with a view in this North Yorkshire town, you're certain to have a grand night.

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