04/06/2015 13:33 BST | Updated 04/06/2016 06:59 BST

Summer Steps: A Guide to Alfresco Drinking in London


Last summer on the steps of St Paul's

Apart from deleting Skype from my phone permanently, the primary reason I'm excited for my boyfriend's imminent arrival into the country, is that I get to introduce him to 'my' London. I'm assuming you're all nodding at the concept of us all having our own version right? Those great local restaurants you never tell anyone about so they stay under the radar, that market stall selling the finest crap, the bridge you think has the view of the city's skyline at night; and, in my case, London's best steps on which to drink in summer.

Weirdly when I mention step drinking to anyone other than my band of reprobate friends, it's generally been frowned upon. But I say screw society! Keep your rammed pub garden benches at the merest hint of a heat wave. When the mercury hits its 20 plus height, you will find me, boyf in tow, swilling somewhere you can always get a seat...

St Paul's Cathedral

For many a trip to one of London's most famous landmarks signifies history, religion and Mr Wren's admitted talent for designing a banging building. To me however, it will always be the favoured summer drinking spot for my (probably alcoholic) friends. It generally goes down like this: a non shit summer's day happens; a series of texts occur about the time of sunset; we meet at 6.30pm sharp with wine, plastic cups and crisps from M&S for two hours (depending on sunset) of uninterrupted imbibing.

Upsides: Abundant nearby shops for fresh supplies, majesty of surroundings, slagging off tourists.

Downsides: Pigeons, lack of nearby public toilet, surrounding tourists.

Trafalgar Square

Even those with step drinking judgment are likely to have consumed a cheeky can of Pimms at Trafalgar Square. I, for one, have lost track of the amount of times I've, ahem, sunk a few ciders whilst watching tourists ask "où est le National Gallery?" (IT'S THAT MASSIVE ENTRANCE AT THE TOP YOU MORONS). Though these steps are splendid at any time of day, personally I find the most fun is to be had around 3am (aka. club kicking out time). On that note, I'm not saying it's a good idea to have a few then try and mount the giant stone lions, but it does make for an excellent selfie.

Upsides: The lions, being in London's epicenter, the plethora of surrounding night bus routes.

Downsides: Stupid tourists (again), smoke pollution.


Apart from the Royal Festival Hall's terrace (one of my top paid for outside meeting points) I tend to think Southbank's only redeeming feature are its steps, which run eastwards from the Hungerford Bridge. Unlike some of the more stately suggestions in this round up, these are perhaps less 'steps' and more a curve with a few ridges cut out which happen to make for good perching. But, when you're sat looking at some halfwit paying a tenner for a shit, sugary cocktail at one of the influx of chain restaurants whilst you're sipping the finest shop bought Sauvignon Blanc through a straw, this will be but a minor detail.

Upsides: Views of the river and north bank, proximity to Waterloo Bridge.

Downsides: Being on Southbank.

Duke of York Column

Though not entirely untouched by tourist bottoms, these steps are as close to a hidden gem as you're likely to find a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace. And, if you go at dusk, when people start to lose interest in St James Park, you will be rewarded with not only a sterling spot to sup, but one in the shadow of Prince Frederick himself. Best to pack supplies for this one, as the nearest shop or loo is a five-minute walk away at the end of The Mall (a lot for central London).

Upsides: Quietness, view of St James Park.

Downsides: Lack of buzz.

Crystal Palace Park

Unless you happen to live there (me) then travelling all the way to Crystal Palace (you) to do some step drinking might seem a bit excessive. Should you be passing by though, or have an empty Sunday and a sense of adventure, then this might just be the best suggestion on the list. The steps themselves sit at the top of the park, linking the destroyed upper and lower terraces of the palace (with sphinxes flanking them which made for great instaposts). The best thing though? That it links to my other top summer pastime - drinking in parks. And before you think Crystal Palace is just any park, think again. There's a maze, a lake with weird iron stage attached and even giant stone dinosaurs.

Upsides: Exploring the rest of the park's attractions when bored of sitting down/desperate to wee in a bush.

Downsides: The 30 minute train journey back to civilisation.

Image blogger's own