CONTROVERSIAL: The New County Hotel, now known as Mystiques Hotel and Restaurant.
A controversial new hotel has opened its doors in Gloucester.
Mystiques Hotel & Restaurant, the former New County Hotel in Southgate Street, welcomed its first guests on Saturday.
According to the club's Facebook page, the venue is aimed at "those with alternative sexual lifestyles".
The club is offering both gay nights and swingers' nights.
A spokesman for Gloucester City Council confirmed the opening.
He said: "Mystique has opened.
"They have a drink, entertainment and late night refreshment license."
He also confirmed that the name above the door was Harry Sykes.
Planning permission for a ground floor restaurant and 10 private flats was granted last year.
An application to create a lifestyle hotel on the site – with fantasy rooms and an adult-themed restaurant – was rejected by Gloucester City Council earlier this year.
However, the company behind those plans, Mystique, has now opened the private members club at the hotel, believing planning permission is not a legal requirement for the project.
Gloucester city councillor Gordon Taylor (Con. Abbey), voted against the plans to turn the building into a sex hotel.
He said the club was in the wrong place, adding: "We are trying to redevelop that area and there are a lot of families walking by and we don't want a sex venue there.
"It is the sort of establishment that should be down Eastgate Street.
"I'm really disappointed that they have managed to get around the decision we made to turn it down.
"There may be a law change coming in within the next 12 months where there might be some scope to challenge it again."
Hugh Worsnip, a spokesman for Gloucester Civic Trust, said: "Our main concern is with the building and the fact that it has been repaired, decorated and put back into use is good news.
"The hotel is not necessarily being used in the way we would like it to be, but it is much better than how it was when it wasn't being used at all.
"The fact that the Grade II listed building hasn't been altered means that it could go back to being a hotel again in the future.
"It is in the crucial area between the city centre and the Docks and it's good to see it open and functioning."
A passer by, who refused to be named, said: "It looks really classy from the outside and what goes on inside is the business of the people who chose to stay there."
However, another passer by, said: "We don't need this kind of thing in Gloucester. There might be a place for them, but it's not here."
Formerly known as The Ram Inn, the New County Hotel was completely rebuilt in about 1840 and extended in 1890. It closed in June 2008 and has been empty ever since.
The owners of the club were not available for comment at time of going to press last night.