Sotano - Secret bars in YorkOne-time cellar to Kennedy’s next door, from street level Sotano Charcuterie & Bar is easy to miss. However, venture down the stairs and you’ll find one of York’s hidden gems, with cosy seating and trendy wood panelling. Beer is served by the schooner, and is a little expensive but it’s a cool little place that plays good music so this more than makes up for it – in our opinion.

Although hidden upstairs above a Stonegate shop front, the House of Trembling Madness is not exactly a well kept secret and can get very busy on a Friday night. Apparently dating back to the 11th century, this tiny medieval hall with its dark wooden benches and stuffed animals on the walls certainly has it’s own unique atmosphere – something the chain bars could never recreate.

House of Trembling Madness - View from Stonegate
House of Trembling Madness, view from Stonegate

Another place that can be found through a single doorway, the third floor Attic Bar is the art gallery bar of the Harlequin cafe below. A pretty laid back, low-key bar, it’s the kind of place you go to catch up with friends rather than to get the party started. One for lovers of coffee, craft beer and gin.

Hidden Bars in York, PivniSomething a little bit different…

The next few bars on our list aren’t exactly hidden, but are perhaps too easy to miss. On a side street off of the main market in a tiny Tudor building, Pivni always has some interesting stuff on tap plus plenty of beers from around the world in the fridge. Originally spread over just two floors. They’ve rearranged the toilets to make space for more seating right at the top.

Just down the road from Clifford’s Tower, The Nook is a little out the way despite it’s city centre location. A single room bar with plenty of style and comfy seating, it manages to be simultaneously cool and unpretentious at the same time – a tricky balancing act. You’ll find music of an evening and they’re certainly not stingy with the cocktails which come served in vast jam-jars (too bad I’m a boring beer drinker!).

The Nook, York

From the front The Habit looks like just another Goodramgate coffee shop – but don’t be fooled. Serving interesting beers and with live music most nights of the week, it makes a great evening destination. It also has an outdoor terrace upstairs with an outstanding view of the Minster – one of the best drinking spots in York on a summer’s afternoon.

The Habit, Goodramgate York

Set back in it’s own covered courtyard just off Grape Lane, 1331 is a Swiss-army kind of a bar. Multi-purpose and multi-functional, you can stop for a drink during the day, or pop in for lunch or dinner, if there’s football on you can watch it in the cinema, get your groove on with live DJs on a Thursday and Friday night and if the mood takes you you can even get married there.

1331 Bar, Grape Lane

The York Brewery Tap Room could have made it on to our real ale list but we decided to put it here because of its almost secret location. As it’s name might suggest it’s part of the York Brewery ‘complex’. Enter via the main door to the brewery, head along an alley and then up a flight of stairs – then simply order your pint and chill out.

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