Find art, fine food, comedy and much more at London’s cool concrete playground this summer. Here’s our guide to the South Bank:
Why go there?
For world-class culture, fine brutalist architecture and the prettiest waterfront stroll in central London.
What’s the vibe?
Arty. There’s enough theatre, film, music and more going on between the Southbank Centre in the west and Tate Modern in the east to make Melvyn Bragg a bit wobbly, never mind your casual aesthete.
What’s that smell?
The scholarly musk rising off the second-hand tomes sold at the daily Book Market under Waterloo Bridge. Get further into the literary spirit, or indeed spirits, at the secret Drawing Room cocktail bar, behind the bookcase in the BFI’s restaurant.
Any celebs about?
Only FHM’s sexiest woman in the world 1200 BC, Helen of Troy! Or at least model and actor Lily Cole, who is portraying the mythological beauty at the Globe Theatre until June 28.
Top tip: the Globe’s midnight matinees are a hoot – book now for shows in July, August and September.
Now I need a drink.
Of course! We wouldn’t usually advise getting high at the same time, but there are great views from the lush Roof Garden Bar on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Oxo Tower’s swanky cocktail joint and the charming sixth-floor restaurant in Tate Modern.
Where’s the party at?
Drop into the London Wonderground or Udderbelly on Queen’s Walk for comedy, cabaret and bars. Or enter the ballot to enjoy a swanky overnight stay with panoramic views at A Room for London: the boat thing perched atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall. How about a nice sit down? Head south down the quiet, lantern-lined bit of the Thames Path. Enjoy the views, then park yourself on a bench outside the Garden Museum.
And if I only do one thing?
That would be missing the point of the South Bank. The Festival of Love kicked off yesterday, so spend next weekend there for a start.
By Jonny Ensall, who thinks concrete can be beautiful.