The vibrant, high-energy city of Cape Town is a must-see, whether the itinerary also includes a safari or a cruise.
Liz Biden’s stunning Silo Hotel is a dramatic repurposing of an industrial space, a kind of glimmering Oz for lovers of art and design. Built in 1924 as a grain silo and empty for decades, the property soars over the waterfront in what is now known as the Silo District. The hotel’s 28 rooms feature huge, specially-designed windows that showcase the panorama of sea, city and Table Mountain, then silently shutter with hidden shades. Half of the original building is a contemporary art museum, which draws visitors from around the world.
The 10th-floor Penthouse celebrates the synchronicity of design and nature. At 2,000-plus square feet, the suite wraps around the building. It’s possible to enlarge the space by adding the Deluxe Superior Suite next door, or to take the entire floor by adding one or two of the Royal Suites (1,550 square feet), each with two bedrooms overlooking the ocean.
Deluxe Superior Suite 801 (700 square feet-plus) continues the luminous theme, as do the other six in this category, the six Superior Suites (800-950 square feet) and four two-bedroom Family Suites (1,200-1,400 square feet). Even the eight Silo rooms (450 square feet), which are the smallest, include sitting areas, balconies and spacious bathrooms. Overall, the Silo reflects a bold use of texture and hue and the rough industrial structure only adds to the allure.
Contact Jaco Ehlers ([email protected]; +27-832-733-721 or +27-216-717-068), sales manager at the Silo.
We left the city for Babylonstoren, a working farm in the Franschhoek wine valley, where visitors are drawn to the landscapes and spectacular gardens. The expansive property attracts day trippers for strolls and lunch at the Greenhouse, so we were especially drawn to the private Fynbos villas, which offer a more intimate setting among the vineyards and hills, as well as a shared pool for the guests staying in the villas. Built in Cape Dutch style, each comes with a fully equipped glassed-in kitchen. Arrangements can be made for food ordered from the various restaurants at Babylonstoren or guests may self-cater. Every villa is private, with terraces overlooking stupendous views.
A group of whitewashed cottages, the Garden Cottages, is closer to the secluded spa in the center of the property. Located along a shady lane are six one-bedroom suites, plus three one-bedroom and four two-bedroom cottages, all with kitchens and traditional Dutch doors in Cape Dutch style. There are bikes available for the use of guests.
Larger groups can choose from among several options. The Farmhouse Villa, surrounded by open lawns, offers one-bedroom suites and a honeymoon loft, plus a jointly-used pool and library. The Manor House, built in 1777, has five bedrooms and five baths and can only be booked in its entirety. Both are suitable for wedding parties or group events. There is also the Fynbos Family House, which sleeps 10 in five bedrooms.
Babylonstoren sees itself as a model of sustainability, with a commitment to solar energy, water conservation, recyclable packaging, and agricultural methods. There are restaurants both formal and casual, a new wine museum, wine tastings, and strolls through acres of vineyards, kitchen gardens and flower fields. Contact Simón La Cock or Marisa Beyers ([email protected]; +27-073-254-7313).
For those who want to explore multiple wine estates, there is the Franschhoek Wine Tram, which has 10 different lines. The Purple Line stops at Babylonstoren and goes on to seven other vineyards on the route.
Between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch in the Cape Winelands, Laurence Graff’s Delaire Graff Estate offers hospitality as luxurious as the diamonds sold by Mr. Graff’s fine jewelry establishments around the world. The gardens, designed by Keith Kirsten with indigenous plants, are perfectly manicured and punctuated with evocative outdoor sculpture by South African artists.
Opened in 2009 and marketed by Relais & Chateaux, Delaire won the R&C Garden Trophy Rozès in 2015. The atmosphere here is lively elegance. As has become de rigueur at South Africa’s high-end properties, African-themed contemporary art is a focal point. (Not to mention the fine jewels from the Graff collection, which are available for purchase or simply admiration).
The Owner’s Villa and the Superior Lodges have been made available recently and have quickly become favorites of international visitors. The four-bedroom Villa, at over 7,000 square feet, offers a refuge for those wishing a very secluded retreat. Reflecting ponds, a 45-foot-long private infinity pool, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the mountains amplify Simon Rawling’s décor and Laurence Graff’s private art collection. Included are a home theater and a walk-in wine cellar, a personal butler, a gym, and a private chef. Each bedroom has a fireplace and private terrace. There is a helicopter pad available; the drive from the airport is less than an hour.
The one-bedroom Superior Lodges at Delaire Graff were added to the 16-lodge collection in 2019. At 800 square feet, they include a bedroom, living room, heated private plunge pool and deck. There are window walls in the living room and bedroom that overlook vineyards and mountains. For more space, it’s possible to combine two Superior Lodges.
The two two-bedroom Presidential Lodges have full-sized pools and views of False Bay, while the Luxury Lodges are smaller versions, still with private pools.
Afternoons at Delaire can include a spa visit or a wine tasting on the terrace of the Wine Lounge. Next is dinner at the popular Indochine, where many of the dishes are made from produce grown on the property (Delaire has a worm farm to stimulate the harvest of superior veggies).
Damian Joubert-Winn ([email protected]) is marketing director, Tanja Von Arnim ([email protected]) does PR and Lizelle Lazarus ([email protected]) is marketing executive. Werner Wentzel ([email protected]) is GM of the Lodges & Spa.
Note: Delaire will be closed for renovations during the latter part of 2023, so book early for visits in 2024.
Swinging back to the coast towards Camps Bay, we stopped at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, which sits within minutes of some of the best beaches in South Africa. With 55 guestrooms, the storied property is within the Table Mountain National Park and has been the site of countless garden weddings overlooking the ocean. Built on property that was originally settled in the 1700s, the hotel incorporates part of a gabled Cape Dutch house built in 1929. The sea views are among the best on the coast.
The Presidential Suite (1,625 square feet) overlooks a spectacular panorama of ocean and mountains. There is bedroom, plus a study, living room, dining room and two bathrooms. The wraparound terrace is ideal for private dinners or sunset cocktails. The main bathroom has an antique free-standing marble bathtub overlooking the sea and the entire suite has marble floors with underfloor heating. The suite comes with many amenities, including butler service.
It’s possible to add one or two mountain-facing rooms or one sea view room (or all three) to the Presidential Suite to create the Grand Master Suite, which would encompass the entire floor.
Room 311 is one of 13 Luxury Rooms, with a terrace that overlooks both the mountains and the sea. The marble bathroom has a separate shower and bathtub. Superior Sea Facing rooms have full ocean views and a sunken seating area. There are 14 one-bedroom suites, with a separate living area and bedroom. These suites are suggested for families traveling with small children and some are available for guests traveling with pets.
The spa at Twelve Apostles has seven treatment rooms and two mountain gazebos for treatments with ocean views. The hotel offers mountain picnic sites and picnic menus for guests. Sommelier Gregory Mutambayi is the resident wine expert, who samples more than 200 wines per week and is happy to organize tastings and give advice on a wide range of vintages, including that of the sister property, Bouchard Finlayson.
Michael Nel ([email protected]) is the GM.
Hint: For private tours of Cape Town and the surrounding winelands, we like Aase Ellingsen ([email protected]; +27-814-006-009) of African Sensations, a boutique journey designer. Her colleague is Iain Cottam ([email protected], +44-779-863-8533 or +39-366-220-5824). Both Aase and Iain are multi-lingual.
Southern African safaris and cruise departures have become more popular and accessible, but it’s still a long trip from the U.S., Europe or Asia. Spending a few days re-energizing in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands before or after heading out to the bush or boarding a cruise ship gives a taste of city life and can be the perfect antidote to jet lag and travel fatigue.