Ireland’s first floating hotel could launch before the end of the year after planning permission was granted for the permanent mooring of a river cruiser at Cork’s Penrose Quay.

An Bord Pleánala has upheld the decision by Cork City Council to approve the novel accommodation facility on the northern bank of the River Lee next to the Michael Collins bridge.

The ruling clears the way for the developer, Sick and Sore, to open the hotel and restaurant on the 105m vessel which previously operated as a luxury cruise ship on the River Rhine. It has three decks containing 87 cabins, lounge areas, a sun deck and restaurant.

Sam Corbett, the businessman behind plans for the so-called boatel said it would provide an alternative and unique dining and accommodation experience in Cork. He claimed similar facilities in other European cities are successful and add to the character of an area.

The council’s granting of planning permission had been appealed by a local resident, Brian O’Mahony, who claims it runs contrary to the North Docks Local Area Plan which provides for new pedestrian and vehicular bridges further downstream from the hotel’s mooring berth.

He said the amenity of the ship’s bedrooms would be compromised as the vessel would be moored directly against the quay wall.

Mr O’Mahony also claimed the set-down area is inadequate to accommodate hotel guests and well as goods and services vehicles, while its location would obstruct plans for a cycle path along the quay.

Mr Corbett said he expects that some of the hotel’s biggest customers would be backpackers after he signed a deal with Paddywagon Tours for the vessel to be used as a stopping point on their round-Ireland tours.

The businessman is also behind another novel project — an escape boat — located in a converted barge in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock where players try and escape from a room in a game inspired by the Crystal Maze, a hit TV show in the 1990s.

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