The first lesson of staying in a fancy hotel, my friend and I learnt last weekend, is to pretend you belong there. This 200-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheet? I dry my dishes with something similar, darling. That avant-garde bathroom tiled entirely in Spanish marble? It's a bit like our utility room at home, wouldn't you say?
Pretending it is your god-given right to be there and hushing down the boggle-factor (when eyes jump out on stalks at the flumpiness of cushions and carpets so thick and fulsome you practically have to wade through them) is the only way of not embarrassing yourself or the staff. You shouldn't even remark on the fact that they use ice cubes the size of ingots in the bar, or that the only way one could achieve a similar level of power shower chez toi would be to have a burst pipe.
That's what swanky hotels are for: to pretend that this is simply the way you roll. "Yeah, and..." you might swagger as you leave. But really you know that what awaits at home is a gas bill, mud on the stairs and pillows that feel more like old dishcloths than marshmallows.
"Blythswood House, eh?" nodded my mother, when I announced my intended mini-break in Glasgow, the city of my birth. "I never made it in when we lived there." Which is a shame, because it was lovely. And it offers an enlightenedsort of package deal for friends,rather than lovers, that works so well in this post-Sex and the City era, when two females travelling together are not immediately treated like the old ladies in A Room with a View. It's the sort of mini-break which isn't so much about going for hearty walks and falling in love as it is about going to a bar and falling over. And then having someone smear you in cocoa butter the next day and massage your hangover away. Bliss.
So if a mini-break means it's true love, as Bridget Jones taught us, then a mini-break on which your companion brings jumbo frankfurters and hummus for the train journey – simply because she knows it's one of your secret and disgusting snacking foibles – is the foundation of a friendship built to last. There we sat for five hours, chuntering like the wheels flashing beneath us, changing topics as rapidly as the scenery outside switched from grey to brown to green to grey again.
"It's brilliant!" cried my friend, upon entering our luxurious twin room. "And look – you can watch me have a wee while you're in the shower!" (Well, I did say it was avant garde.)
It was painfully clear we would need to posh up a bit to match our surroundings, which is why we had decided about three months previously that our dress code for the weekend should be "WAG". Given that both of us normally exist in black, our boyfriends found this particularly hilarious. Mine especially, as he watched me pile black item after black item into the suitcase.
"No, look," I gently explained, as if teaching a child how to put on a directional jumper with five sleeves, "this has got an asymmetrical shoulder detail, this is a bit see-through, this has no back, and this is what I call day-to-night, casual-chic, almost-black. Which is really dark grey." He wasn't convinced.
The upshot was that my friend and I ended up enthusiastic, squawking crows, high on wine that hadn't made us wince as we knocked it back. After an exquisite dinner, we went to a cheap bar, where a man gave us a rose each. We went to another, where someone told us that we looked like pop stars. Then we went to a club and danced like people greeting each other after a decade apart, only to find ourselves surrounded by young men.
"This is the life," we sighed to ourselves the next day, relaxing in a dark, warm swimming pool that looked more like a womb than anything lurking in either of our alcohol-racked torsos. "This is what it's all about," we agreed, floating like addled starfish and wiping last night's mascara from our cheeks.
"I think we've fooled them," I said. "I think this hotel might actually think we're swanky enough to be here." We nodded and floated a bit longer, before realising it was time to have all of our dead skin sloughed off by smiling women with warm, lavender-scented hands.
It was only later on, sitting on the train home – a less lively affair owing to an absence of buffet car for the duration of the five-hour journey – surrounded by burping football fans and a woman whose voice made the very metal of the carriage vibrate with distaste, that we realised our mistake.
"Oh my god, I left the jumbo frankfurters in the mini-bar fridge!" breathed my friend, before collapsing into shamed hysteria.
Blythswood House had our number from the minute we walked in, I thought: would-be WAGS with a penchant for processed food. No wonder we'd made so many new friends in Glasgow.Reuse content