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Kings Arms, York

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user reviews of the Kings Arms, York

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Called locally - 'the pub that floods' - because of the frequent arrival of the River Ouse, through its doors.
tradervic - 13 Jun 2020 18:26
No complaints from me. Tourist trap pub with no real ales but nice friendly staff and at £2 a pint why complain. The Old Brewery Bitter was perfectly acceptable and I got a nice seat in the sun by the water.
droggs - 12 Apr 2017 16:27
Just spent a lazy afternoon in the Kings Arms and thought it deserved a fresh review. I used to drink at the Kings regularly however I haven't spent any real time in there for a long long time simply due to the horrific standards of cleanliness practiced. This once great little pub has been neglected year after year. However I was pleasantly surprised when I went in today, the whole place was spotless and the staff were just a great laugh. Apparently a new young couple have recently taken over. The beer still isn't cask though which is annoying but it was pretty decent to say the least. Old Brewery is 1.84.
Keithsthename - 13 Sep 2013 20:02
Great atmosphere and beer.
bfmn531 - 12 May 2013 16:07
A nice enough pub - subject to flooding. Unfortunately, all the beer is keg, and even at £1.70 a pint, Samuel Smith’s “Old Brewery Aerosol Bitter does not cut the mustard.

3/10 purely because it’s situated in a nice spot.

5thearlofwimbourne - 22 Oct 2011 14:09
Sorry to be pedantic, but the Kings Arms is on the North bank of the Ouse, twixt Ouse Bridge and Skeldergate Bridge. The pub is always popular with Tourists, and plays upon this trait (quite rightly it's fair to say).

As part of the Sam Smith's stable, it's reasonably cheap, but as the previous reviewer states, there is no real ale; largely due to the fluctuating state of the cellar when the river decides to rise. If you're a tourist come and sample this element of York, you could do much worse. If you're a local, then you can drink similar middle of the road Sam Smiths at the Brigadier Gerard, Hansom Cab or Crystal Palace for a fraction of the cost. By no means the worst experience in York, but certainly not the best !
MountainMan - 27 Aug 2010 23:17
The Kings Arms is a smallish Sam Smith's pub situated on the northern banks of the River Ouse between the Lendal and Ouse bridges.

It's a typical Sam's pub - unbadged as such of course - with flagstoned flooring, exposed brickwork and lowish beams. The interior is largely unremarkable, although do note the markers indicating how high the floods have been over the years - the highest being approx 6 feet which was in November 2000.

There's a large outside area on the river front, which is a mixture of bench seating and a standing area on the cobblestones.

Given its location, this is a pub that probably doesn't have to make too much effort to attract the punters on a sunny day . My recent visit appeared to bear this out - longish queues for service, no one collecting empties, sticky tables - in summary, a not very impressive show, I'm afraid.

The Sam Smiths OBB - £ 1.61p - is not real ale.

We all like drinking outside when the sun comes out to play, but there's not much else to get enthusiastic about here.
JohnBonser - 13 Jul 2010 13:28
Nice location right on the quayside. Inside is a brick interior & stone floor. Cosy & inviting. No real ales so had a whisky.
happytyskie - 30 Dec 2009 22:00
Great outside drinking area by the river. Cheap Sam Smiths ales.
ppw - 25 Aug 2009 21:46
A very pleasant location where you can sit outside by the river (assuming it's not flooded!). Sam Smiths on electric pump which is far cheaper than most York pubs.
alexw - 25 Aug 2009 20:04
I have visited this pub a few times for the Sam Smith's beers. Great prices and local, independant beers/drinks. This is a great location for a drink. For those who want to eat it is not the best place as Sam Smiths gave the food over to a family member who failed in another food supplying business so the food basically sucks. But if you want good, nutritional food then cook it yourself (lazy git) or go to a decent place that actually specialises in serving quality food. Sam Smith's are great pubs for good quality beer and a reasonable price.
Andicheese - 6 Aug 2009 12:54
Every time I go to York (which is not that often living in Cornwall, but still managed at least a dozen times in the past 10 years or so) I always go in here for a pint of Samuels. Always a good pint but sometimes is difficult to find a place to sit, especially in the summer due to the tourists (and I am one of them!) been there once on Bonfire night and was amazing to be in the city that night, a real special atmosphere, spooky buy amazing!
thecoopers - 12 Jul 2009 20:11
i went in the kings arms on sunday with my partner, we ordered the cauli and stilton tart and the bolognese dishes, they were both disappointing, there wasnt ant colour or taste with the bolognese and my tart was nuked, on looking around we could see the full plates of food left by unhappy customers. this is a pub that functions on passing trade and regulars know not to eat meals, oh and the chips were raw although very brown on the outside.our lager wasnt good and had a peculiar smell, quaint pub crap 'goods'.
ruby2009 - 4 May 2009 20:05
I went to this pub today after a cycle ride with my friends, with bikes in gear etc.

When we went to get a beer, the barman spilled my friends lager down his own arm!!..when i ordered a pint of Bitter and half of lager i ended up with beer over me when he slammed it on the bar and it went all over my arm. Wether he was having a bad day or not when I complained that he should calm down i promptly got told not to return and got barred...your choice wether to go or not. This was at about 17.00ish today.
Dragonsani - 3 Apr 2009 19:51
A nice, very small Sam Smiths pub- popular with locals as well as students. Very cheap- £1.55 a pint for the bitters, £1.70 for the alpine lager. They keep the ales far too cold though.
will_s - 5 Feb 2009 17:46
I have always been led to understand that the lack of hand-pumps is due to the absence of a cellar ... for obvious reasons! However, why can't they rack up barrels behind the bar with spiggoted delivery? Yes, it's in a fantastic location but its failure to provide Real Ale is a crime. There is also a sense in which it is a victim of its own pupularity though: more often than not you simply can't get in!
Ditchcrawler - 14 Jan 2009 23:10
I love this pub!

Fantastic riverside location, this Sam Smiths pub is a real gem (and I think they know it!) Typical range of Sam Smiths own beers on offer, and at typical Sam Smiths prices. I've not eaten here, so I can't comment on the food. When the sun comes out, there's a fantastic outdoor riverside terrace to enjoy your beer (possibly York's finest drinking spot?) However, when it's raining...
Paulaner - 28 Dec 2008 23:06
Good bar. Class sitting outside in the sun next to the river having a few bottles of Sam Smith lager. Always pop in when visiting york!
scoreboard1 - 24 Sep 2008 13:39
Closed due to the recent flooding! I have no information on the reopening date.
jbsjazzer - 15 Sep 2008 16:18
Nice Pub, none of the usual brands behind the bar, all Samuel Smith brands, but I had a nice lager which was £1.44 a pint! Interesting flood history! Worth a visit for a pint.
TheMuz - 12 May 2008 20:10
Great location for summer drinking. Sam Smiths so very cheap own brand drinks (like the Hansom Cab). Inside the pub is no great shakes, but I come for the outside terrace by the river.
MountainMan - 5 Apr 2008 22:45
Went in December was told how good the food was, we had meat and potato pie? should be potato pie we got no meat at all service was terrible but cant blame the barmaid she was on her own?Yes beer is cheap but customers suffer due to lack of staff and entertainment.Would have enjoyed watching the football but no television
johnny333 - 11 Mar 2008 22:48
Very cheap beer and reasonably priced, acceptably tasting lager (compared with Carling, Fosters etc). Unfortunately the bitter is chilled which sums up the pub as a haunt for tourists rather than beer drinkers (can get quite frustrating at the back of a long queue of tourists who repeatedly ask for a bottle of Magners/pint of Guinness no matter how many times the staff tell them that as a Sam Smith's pub they only sell Sam Smith's products). It is nonetheless a very pleasant watering hole, especially on a nice day when you can sit, pint in hand, on the bank of the River Ouse.
tomowen - 5 Mar 2008 15:36
If it was not for the lack of handpulled beer, and mad Sam Smiths seem to decide which pubs will not have real ale at random, I would rate this place very highly. Cosy and can be full of passing trade, but also has a lot of loyal locals.
bradwan - 2 Mar 2008 14:55
not a favourite of mine. now has a very surly landlord. today york tomorrow the world type character. wont be back there in a hurry sorry to say .
postie28 - 2 Nov 2007 17:17
Intimate cosy pub with very cheap local beer, stone floors and beams. Unique pub by the river, well worth a visit.
BB_and_Pumps - 28 Oct 2007 12:21
A good pub with cheap beer, if you want only Sam Smiths products. I had a pint of "Olld Brewery Bitter".
The worst part of the evening was the smell coming from the toilets! In todays climate it should be possible to fix this!!
jbsjazzer - 10 Oct 2007 10:16
Went here on a Friday lunchtime, outside seats and tables all taken due to good weather but inside pub not that crowded. A few locals drinking there who were quite chatty and friendly.
Lager i had (Sam Smiths Home Brewed) reasonably priced at £2.28 a pint and food (Gammon and Egg)good value for money.
Only thing to watch out for is that when i went back there for a quick drink at about 4.45pm, the landlord was making people queue up to get in - when i eventually got in i found about 8 people waiting to be served (there were 3 bar staff working) and plenty of empty seats and tables inside. Despite this i would still recommend this pub as being a worthwhile place to have a drink in.
anonymous - 5 Jun 2007 00:08
Another one i had to visit during an all dayer - lager seemed ok - some Sams Smiths stuff seemed to do teh job though - nice atmosphere and ideal in teh summer to sit on the riverside.
zamora250 - 27 Apr 2007 21:11
great cosy pub in winter. friendly service and one of our favourites in york. definitely going back for more.
mmbeer - 29 Dec 2006 10:52
Sam Smith's ales at cheap prices, but not realy a real ale pub! River level lowest I have seen, no danger of flooding this trip.
jbsjazzer - 16 Oct 2006 15:55
Superb on a warm summers evening standing on the quayside with friends. Amazed to see it come back afetr every flood season (depth marks on the waqll chart unbelievable - over my head!) Great service, beer's pretty good if nowadays unpopular (Sam Smiths and Ayingerbrau) and unbelievably cheap - last time I was there a round of 7 drinks gave me change for £10!!
JonD - 13 Jul 2006 12:40
Nice location, but without Real Ale it gets low marks
awcrounse - 20 Jun 2006 04:45
Great pint of Sam Smith's. Made several visits during my recent trip to York and on each time the Ouse got a little bit higher until the last day when the pub couldn't open! Pleasant landlord, staff and pub dogs!!
richardh - 6 Apr 2006 12:53
Nice on a late summers afternoon. Reasonable grog, great location.
ARJH - 17 Mar 2006 15:51
Tourist/student trap with above average pint of Sam's, which doesn't exactly scream "drink here" from the rooftops.

Famous for regular Ouse-inspired redecorating. I once knew a bloke who claimed to know the then landlord who said that during one flood he waded into the bar and caught a pike snacking on the crisps behind the bar. I really wish I was making that up.
k1G - 5 Mar 2006 20:05
Cracking location by the river,maybe too close-as the various high levels which the river Ouse has reached are marked inside on the pubs walls.Possibly the reason why The Sam Smiths isn't handpumped-'you change the barrel-you drown'.Usually a decent mix of tourists,locals & students.Can get chocker on sunny summer days.
EdgarBriggsMI5 - 7 Jan 2006 18:15
Great pub, Sam Smiths so quality of wares second to none as usual, plus the riverside location.

Only negative point would be the surly goth behind the bar, but apart from that, I like.
TheGP - 20 Dec 2005 18:25
Great place to go to as us Bury Deafies always go there when we are in York great staff great place for a pint can sit outside good views around the place we are going back in June 2005 for weekend so let us know whats it like now as last went in August 2004.
deafbulldog - 27 Apr 2005 14:05
i like one girl bar staff i met, she had just started and made me feel very welcome and made the pub a better place to drink. went back a week later and she no longer works there. the pub is in a nice setting but has an 'in-crowd' old men seem to domanate the pub. this place needs to keep up to date with yorks younger clientel.
paul - 2 Sep 2004 17:40
The famous pub that always gets flooded when the river rises, theres a marker just inside the doorway that shows the level of famous floods of the past. Sam Smiths , so you know what to expect with both beers and prices, but just to clear up what I think are slightly misguiding comments below - there is no 'beer garden', garden would tend to signify something vaguely grass-like, there is outdoor seating and it does immediately overlook the river (and in the cases mentioned above actually 'in'or 'under' the river)but its only a paved, cordoned off seating area and anyone expecting a 'garden' will be sorely dissapointed!
Paul - 8 Jun 2004 08:32
great selection of sam smith's ales at cheap prices, brilliant riverside garden! Ideal!
Matt - 7 Jun 2004 23:25
brilliant. one of the best beer gardens i have been to. good atmosphere. sam smiths beer as well so it is cheap
Richard - 8 Nov 2003 18:43

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