Top hats and champagne: Two Coatbridge girls try five star London luxury

Hyde Park Suite
Hyde Park Suite

I'M trying to do a thing with my face, which I hope is sufficiently convincing but I imagine is persuading no one.

It's an attempt at nonchalance, which I'm also hoping my friend is replicating, but I'm avoiding looking at her because we've been best friends for 30 years and I know, without having to turn my head, that she's corpsing.

We are being given a tour of our £6000-a-night suite at the Mandarin Oriental in London and are trying to pretend that we are utterly blase about the whole thing. We're from Coatbridge, right, we're immune to luxury.

But listen, I've stayed in some very nice places over the years - including other Mandarin Oriental locations - so I can tell you confidently this is a class apart. It is, famously, the hotel where William Churchill was a regular and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret took dancing lessons as girls in the ballroom. An Edwardian icon.

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A short while earlier we'd arrived at Knightsbridge for our stay in the 120-year-old hotel, welcomed by gentlemen in top hats and red tails into a lobby rich with imposing marble and given life by oversized floral displays by McQueens.

Such long-established and opulent hotels can risk being either matronly or severe but the Mandarin Oriental is neither. The hotel is only a few years on from a multi-million pound makeover and still feels fresh, a freshness augmented by the breezy friendliness of the staff.

Over the course of two days we are routinely greeted by name, despite the fact we've never been introduced, and conversation is genuinely warm and interesting. These same staff will deal with Hollywood A-listers, millionaire business people and royalty but we are treated just the same.

Back to our room: we're staying in a Hyde Park Suite with a superb view out to the royal parklands. We see the Household Cavalry trot by and enjoy watching the weekend bustle of Londoners out jogging or walking dogs or out riding.

During the refurbishment, the Mandarin Oriental was refreshed and brightened with interior design by Joyce Wang and the building given new touches to reflect its proximity to the park – the outside has been woven inside with leaf motifs and light fixtures featuring acorns.

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In the hall outside our room hang 1920s-style lights with pendants of equine hair culled from the Horse Guards’ stable. We also take time to stop and admire monochrome photographs by Mary McCartney that hang in the communal spaces.

We have a master bedroom with adjoining living space. The tech is top notch with Dyson hairdryer, the newest GHD hair straighteners and a Japanese toilet with mod cons you did not know you needed. Let us not dwell on how long we spent pressing the buttons to make the lavatory seat go up and down.

Speaking of detail, everything is considered: there is a yoga mat, should you need one; hidden power points throughout; and in the bathroom the toiletries are Diptyque while there are bath salts and a rubber ducky for bathing. There is a bathtub and a separate monsoon shower.

My friend is dismayed not to be able to find an iron until I point out that guests of the Mandarin Oriental are not the sort to do their own ironing.

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Our living area, which we are loath to leave, is styled with light Art Deco touches, has a library of novels and reference books and a quite exceptional minibar. It is my friend's birthday and so we arrive to a birthday cake and patisserie to celebrate, an extremely thoughtful touch.

Champagne waits on ice, as does a box of Fortnum and Mason caramels.

Unfortunately the spa is almost fully booked with just one appointment slot left so my companion takes it – it's her birthday after all – and reports back to having had a sumptuous and thorough massage from the long menu of innovative treatments on offer. While she's busy I make the most of the spa facilities and relaxation space.

The basement spa is compact, due to the nature of the building, but has ample facilities: a sauna, a crystal steam room and a vitality pool. I take a turn in each and then enjoy the relaxation room where weighted blankets comfort on plush beds, there are adult colouring books for mindfulness and healthy snacks keep you ticking over until dinner.

Ah, dinner. The hotel is a dining destination - Heston Blumenthal has his two Michelin starred Dinner restaurant here; the Rosebery is the perfect backdrop for afternoon tea; and the Mandarin Bar offers the chance to unwind with innovative cocktails.

We, however, head to The Aubrey, pitched as an "eccentric izakaya experience". Again, we're from Coatbridge, we're well used to eccentric izakaya experiences but in case you're not, this is styled as an informal Japanese bar. While it's far from informal - the clientele are glamorous, as are the surroundings - the vibe is relaxed and generous.

My friend and I are technically there for brunch but we stay for hours, ending up in a sprint to make it to the West End for a theatre performance we've booked. We have some of the best sushi I've tried and certainly some of the best cocktails.

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Returned from the theatre we sleep like queens in our suite, knocked out by the last of the Champagne and cradled by the plushest of pillows. We are late for our breakfast slot but the staff are too polite to mention. We should, by rights, still be full of cake and sushi but it would be scandalous to miss out on the exemplary breakfast on offer.

We are seated in the window and look out to Hyde Park as we have eggs florentine, pastries, fresh juices and parfaits. We require to be rolled back to our suite where the sofas and velvet armchairs are welcome support as we digest it all down.

Check out is noon but the hotel is flexible about allowing us to stay on a little later - it helps us both juggle other plans and prepare to part from our new home. It's amazing how quickly one becomes accustomed to luxury and loathe to say farewell to it.

The maxim is wrong: money can absolutely buy you happiness and happiness is found in the riches of this faultless Knightsbridge grand dame.

Travel facts

Prices at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, start from £784 per night. Catriona stayed in the Hyde Park Suite; from £5,400 per night.