Lord Stevens said he had encountered an atmosphere of mistrust between the press and the police. He tried to change that by encouraging his officers to talk to the press.
He said he had had 12 separate meetings with Rebekah Wade, former news editor of the News of the World, but he said he had not favoured any one particular newspaper group and he would have investigated phone hacking had it happened in his time very thoroughly.
Lord Condon told the inquiry: "Over the course of seven years, on a small handful of occasions I may have had the odd meal.
"Max Hastings, as editor of the Telegraph and as editor of the Standard, always moaned about the quality of the food and drink at Scotland Yard, and I think I weakened a couple of times. I think I had lunch with Max Hastings at one of his clubs."
Lord Condon said he also dined out with former Daily Mail crime reporter Peter Burden and ex-Sun editor Stuart Higgins.
Lord Condon said in a statement to the inquiry: "In my view hospitality can be the start of a grooming process which leads to inappropriate and unethical behaviour."
He added: "In any walk of life, hospitality can be appropriate, can be sensible, can be necessary, can be ethical.
"But on the other side of that, it can lead to inappropriate closeness, and in some cases that can lead to criminal behaviour."
Asked about the relationship between Police and press Lord Condon said: "For every waking minute I was on duty for small periods of time that relationship with the media would be the single thing that was dominating my life."
He added that when there was a major event in London there would be an "insatiable demand for the Commissioner of the day to be saying things about it, to be reassuring the public, to be giving information".
Lord Condon said when he took over as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police he was warned that the force did have "a small but significant number of officers whose behaviour was totally unacceptable" and this went from "minor disciplinary right the way through to serious disciplinary".
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioners Lord Condon and Lord Stevens are due to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Surrey Police Chief Constable Lynne Owens is also set to appear.