A NEW hotel is ready to welcome its first guests in Newport city centre this weekend.

The 135-room Mercure Hotel, in the former Chartist Tower office building, has opened its doors, nearly four years after city planners gave it the thumbs-up.

And to mark the occasion, Mercure invited its next-door neighbours at the Argus to an exclusive first look around the four-star hotel.

In the reception area, staff were all smiles as they toasted the opening day, bringing to a conclusion a multi-million pound project to renovate the city landmark and add a big splash of luxury to the city centre.

Newport's industrial heritage is at the centre of the hotel's decor, with nods to the Transporter Bridge throughout the building, from the artwork in reception to the carpets in the corridors.

Click the gallery at the top of the page for all our photographs from inside the new hotel.

The hotel boasts a stylish restaurant, bar and rooftop terrace area - which are also all open to the public as well as guests - and there are slick conference and board room facilities for business guests.

The kitchen is being run by award-winning chef Steve White. Diners can look forward to a menu with Italian and Welsh inspiration, including several burgers named after famous moments and characters from the city.

Ceri Trela, the hotel's general manager, has said she feels "thrilled" to welcome the hotel's first guests.

She called the hotel a "major investment for both Newport and Wales as a whole, bringing tourism, business and jobs to the area" that will "strengthen the region as a destination and booking choice for the future".

The opening has also been welcomed by the Welsh Government, which supported the project with £2 million in grant and loan funding.

"The development of this high quality hotel right in the centre of Newport is very welcome news and I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support what will become an iconic development for the city," said economy minister Vaughan Gething. "I wish the team well with the opening and hope they have a busy summer ahead."