When Ken McCulloch heard he’d got the Glasgow city centre site he’d wanted for his first Dakota Deluxe hotel, he was so jubilant he rustled up some “nice nibbles” and put the pink champagne on ice as a surprise for his wife Amanda Rosa, the award-winning interior designer whom he met in the 1980s prior launching his first hotel, One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, and with whom he has collaborated ever since.

“She’d been out at a keep-fit class in the West End when I got the call, and came in to see this celebration all laid out. She took one look and asked: ‘We got it?’ and I shouted, ‘Yes!’ We were absolutely thrilled, and danced until dawn, because I always intended to come back to Glasgow, the city I love,” says the legendary hotelier who has been living in Monaco for the last 10 years and is now permanently based at Kelvin Court, the Art Deco apartment he has owned for 34 years. He describes the return home as “really wonderful”, though he retains links with the South of France, where his brother Don lives.

His youthful enthusiasm belies his long career (which spans 50 years and counting) and the prospect of embarking on another high-profile multi-million-pound venture, with long-term business partner Evans Property Group, is clearly invigorating.

The 83-room Dakota Deluxe Glasgow is due to open in spring 2016 and is the first of a string of luxury hotels “that take things up a notch or two or three” and will be “like travelling first class”. Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Cambridge are to follow. Room rates are upwards of £200, compared with around £70 for existing edge-of-town Dakotas at EuroCentral and Forth Bridge. There will be more suites too at upwards of £350.

Formed from a 1960s office block on the corner of Pitt and West Regent Streets, visually it will be a departure from the striking black glass monoliths that define Dakota: this one will feature massive “Manhattan loft” style windows to create a New York Village vibe. Internally the classic Amanda Rosa signature look continues in bare walls and luxury walnuts, velvets, linens and leathers indark chocolates, greys and creams.

“This is a very significant story for me and for Glasgow. Nobody else is doing what we’re doing,” he says.

The irony of rocking up just a silver teaspoon’s throw from his old stomping ground of Malmaison Glasgow, opposite the rival Blythswood Square Hotel, and within a short taxi ride of One Devonshire Gardens can surely not be lost on him. Does he intend to shake them up? While refusing to rise directly to the bait, he does lob a sideways challenge. “I didn’t set out to do that. What everyone else does is nothing to do with me. I want to give Glasgow somewhere to go that makes people feel special, and sadly I don’t see much of that right now.”

His relaxed demeanour bears all the signs of a man basking in the glow of sustained – if not unchallenged – success, which he says has always been based on hunches.

In the 1970s McCulloch – son of the impresario Archie, who helped launch Scottish Television, and the singer Kathie Kay - founded Glasgow’s most enduring wine bars and restaurants (La Bonne Auberge, Charlie Parker’s, The Granary), and transformed The Buttery and Rogano. His reputation as a hotelier was made with One Devonshire Gardens, which he opened in 1986 as Scotland’s first boutique hotel and which became a legend in its own lunchtime. It was swiftly followed by the phenomenally successful mid-priced Malmaison Leith and Glasgow in 1994, the first new hotel brand for 30 years, and judged by Vogue magazine to have heralded a hotel revolution in Britain. (McCulloch, who grew up in Blanefield and attended boarding school near Motherwell, left school at 16 and worked as a trainee chef “butchering meat and gutting fish” in the kitchens of British Transport Hotels, including Gleneagles, the North British and the Central Hotel’s renowned Malmaison restaurant. He had a “eureka” moment some 30 years later, when he realised the famous name was up for sale – and got it for £100.)

The Malmaison group was sold to Patriot America in 1998, against McCulloch’s wishes (the sale was a “very attractive” proposition for shareholders); two years later, he opened the 5-star Columbus Monaco hotel with the F1 racing driver David Coulthard and the American property developer Peter Morris as his partners. Prince Albert was a regular.

That venture ended badly for both Scotsmen, following false rumours of financial mismanagement which forced the sale of Columbus in 2007.

McCulloch and Coulthard had also opened the first mid-priced Dakota hotel in Nottingham in 2004 and it was named Best New UK Hotel by Conde Nast Traveller. Dakota EuroCentral and Dakota Forth Bridge followed. Nottingham became a casualty of the Columbus fallout, and was sold in 2008.

Over coffee in the upscale lounge of Dakota Forth Bridge, I ask what happened. He smoothes the jacket of his bespoke navy silk and cashmere suit and takes a deep breath.

“I didn’t like that time at all, and it wasn’t good for David or me. It was untrue, a case of ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story even if you’ve done nothing wrong’. All I will say is, be very careful who you do business with. I’m not referring to David; I’m talking about a third party. They got the guttersnipes [the press] involved. It should not have happened because it was not true. It was darker than you can imagine and I don’t think any of have our heads round it yet. But Evans Property Management, whom I have been with for 10 years, were steadfast throughout.

He adds: “David is welcome here any time. In fact, he and his family stayed with us in Glasgow just last month.”

Now he’s set to replicate what he did with One Devonshire Gardens. The food at Dakota Deluxe Glasgow will be “a cut above” and a new signature fragrance for take-away toileteries is currently being created.

Is Glasgow ready to be taken up-market McCulloch style? “Glasgow is up for this, or I’m a Dutchman,” he responds. “Glasgow is a very cultured city and a great city needs great hotels. The market we’re looking for currently doesn’t have anywhere to go.

“What we do doesn’t date and it’s becoming more and more popular. I’m in this for the long term, for the legacy, and I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think I could make a difference.”