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The Blue Bell

Public House

53 Fossgate, York, YO1 9TF

Tel: 01904 654904

TripAdvisor Traveller Rating

TripAdvisor Traveller Rating - 288 reviews288 reviews
Front Bar at the Blue Bell


The Blue Bell is York's only Grade II* Listed Edwardian décor pub with an unaltered 1903 interior. Also York's smallest Public House, the first pint was poured in 1798 and since then it has won dozens of CAMRA awards for the quality of it's beer, service and atmosphere and most recently is York CAMRA's Pub of the Season for Winter 2016/17.
Recently the pub has vastly improved it's non-cask ale drinks range and now boasts extensive gin, whisky, fine wine and bottled beer menus, meaning visitors can enjoy the atmosphere and history of the pub whilst enjoying their favourite drink (but we still recommend you try at least one pint of ale!) For those not in the mood for alcohol there is also an extensive soft and hot drink selection.
It is Caske Marque accredited and has also been awarded national fundraising pub of the year. We believe in the simple things in life: a quality drink served by lovely staff in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. For this reason we have strict House Rules such as no swearing, no noisy groups and no stag or hen parties. We have no TVs, music or games machines and we kindly ask that all mobile phone conversations are held outside the public rooms. This doesn't mean that the pub is silent - it can get pretty rowdy at weekends! (For quieter times, please come and see us during the week - especially in the afternoon.)
We know it's old fashioned, but that's what we like. If you think you'll like it too, come and have a pint in a living part of Britain's pub history.

***** Updated Review - The Blue Bell *****

Updated review now online, here’s the summary:

Hidden away behind a very non-assuming façade of glazed red bricks is the very quaint and very small Blue Bell, a perfect example of an Edwardian pub. The entrance leads down a small corridor with the main room to the front and a slightly larger Smoke Room to the rear. Between there’s a small alcove with a beer hatch and a lot of beautiful etched glass. If you really want to travel in time the décor of this pub gives you the chance, wonderfully preserved and oozing warmth and the reassurance of hundreds of years of tradition, in fact after its last renovation in 1903 the wood panelling had a preservation order slapped on it and thankfully so as it prevented any horrible modern updating since then. They even have a polite request to take mobile phone calls outside to preserve the ambience. The bar is situated centrally with access to both of the rooms, both having a wealth of brewery paraphernalia and old paintings adorning the stunning wood panelling. Each room also has an open fire and a few copper topped tables and bar stools. You’ll be lucky to get a seat though as its popularity and size mean it’s usually packed. The bar has 7 pumps with a good selection of real ales at standard York prices, but with the promise that a more diverse range is to come. The Blue Bell is certainly a pub where you won’t run out of good things to drink, as their bottle range is pretty extensive too. Suffering a little in the past due to the reputation of quite a grumpy landlord, it’s all change now for 2016 with John Pybus taking over and turning the pub’s size into more of a positive than a negative. Yes big groups will still get turned away, but that’s because there’s limited space. Gone is the “private party” sign, so everyone is welcome, even CAMRA members. You can’t get more of a juxtaposition of landlord here, John and his staff are the most welcoming, friendly and enthusiastic we’ve ever seen in a York pub, it’s worth the visit just for that alone, and maybe the great beers too. There’s no music played apart from some live acoustic stuff on a Saturday night so this really is the idea place for a peaceful contemplative drink to unwind, especially when all the lights go out in the backroom later on in the evening to be replaced by candles. The toilets to the end of the corridor are just as traditional as the rest of the building but thankfully very well kept and functional, often a point such old buildings are let down on, but not here. Obviously there’s no outside space and access is pretty tight but this is due to the nature of the pub and not necessarily a negative. The Blue Bell is an essential pub to visit in York and we welcome all the good that the new management will bring to such a historic venue. So despite not ticking tops marks in every category we review under we felt its uniqueness and superb service mean that it should be listed as one of the best in York, we’ll certainly be popping back regularly and you should too.

For further details and full scores see the main page:

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Opening Times

Season (18 Feb 2017 - 28 Feb 2026)
Monday - Thursday11:00 - 23:00
Friday - Saturday11:00 - 23:55
Sunday12:00 - 22:30



  • On-site light refreshments

Property Facilities

  • Dogs accepted
  • Gift shop
  • Smoking not allowed
  • WiFi or internet access

Site Features

  • English Heritage Property


  • Yorkshire AwardsYork Tourism Awards Finalist York Tourism Awards Finalist 2016

Road Directions

Easily located on Fossgate – the home of York’s independent traders. Simply enter Fossgate from Pavement/Stonebow at the bottom of the Shambles and we are one door down from the top of the street on the right (red bricks).

Accessible by Public Transport: York Train Statiom station is 0.5 miles away.

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TripAdvisor Traveller Rating:

4.5 of 5 stars
  • Certificate of Excellence 2019
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