London A luxurious 91-room hotel has opened on a former bomb site in what was Soho’s seediest corner. The Ham Yard Hotel is the latest property from Firmdale, the company run by designer Kit Kemp and her husband Tim, who have seven other London hotels as well as one in New York. In an area once renowned for drugs and prostitution, Ham Yard was the last undeveloped second world war bomb site in Soho before Firmdale acquired the land in 2009 for a reported £30m. It has now been transformed into an “urban village” with 13 specialist shops in a tree-lined pedestrian street. The hotel has a rooftop garden, library, spa, 188-seat theatre and a 1950s bowling alley imported from Texas; bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows. Meanwhile, Nobu Hospitality, the restaurant and hotel company whose owners include chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, has announced plans to open a London hotel in what would until recently have been considered a similarly insalubrious location. The 156-room property is due to open in 2016 in Willow Street, a Shoreditch backstreet behind the budget Hoxton Hotel.
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Kathmandu The Nepalese government is opening 104 new peaks to climbers, offering even those with little experience the prospect of making a first ascent. KE Adventure, a British tour operator, has already responded to the move by launching a trip to make the first ascent of Mukot Peak when it opens next year. The 6,087m peak lies to the north of Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh-highest mountain. The 21-day trip, departing October 3 2015, costs £2,895; participants need only to be fit and to have used crampons before. The proviso is that this will be the first “recorded ascent” – others may have already reached the summit without official permission. Space is limited to 12 people but other operators are likely to announce more expeditions to the newly opened peaks in the coming months. The Nepalese government hopes the move will increase tourism revenue while also easing congestion on the most popular peaks.
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Virginia Hilton Worldwide, the Virginia-based hospitality group with more than 4,000 properties worldwide, is to launch a new chain of hotels for travellers “who seek local discovery and authentic experiences”. Rather than being managed by the group, members of what will be called “Curio – A Collection by Hilton” will remain independently owned and managed. The move is designed to give guests more individuality while still offering the group’s loyalty programme and guaranteed standards. For the hotels, it offers a chance to gain access to Hilton’s global marketing and distribution channels.