The Silo, Cape Town Opens as South Africa's Hottest Destination

Cape Town was set abuzz in April when The Silo hotel opened in the former grain elevator of an historic 1920s grain silo storage complex on the city’s vibrant V&A Waterfront. The opening added 28 lavish guestrooms and suites to the city’s inventory, plus stylish new spots to dine, drink and socialize. 

We spent a few nights at The Silo shortly after it opened, and we think it’s safe to say that, when it comes to style, no other hotel in Cape Town compares to this. That’s thanks to Liz Biden, who owns The Silo and its parent company, The Royal Portfolio, along with her husband, Phil. She personally executes the interior design of each of the Royal Portfolio’s five hotels. Biden’s whimsical sense of style is brought to life throughout The Silo in the form of jewel-tone furniture; dramatic, custom-made crystal chandeliers; and perfectly mismatched patterns and prints. (Notably, no two guestrooms look the same.)

What If The World Gallery, housed in a former synagogue on Argyle Street in Cape Town, is a major draw for art aficionados.

With its prime waterfront position and giant, faceted “pillow” windows — the work of London architect Thomas Heatherwick — The Silo offers what are arguably the best views in the town. For the ultimate vantage point — and the most living space — book the top-floor Penthouse Suite. The sprawling, 2,000-square-foot, one-bedroom suite overlooks the Table Mountain and has a large balcony, a separate office, a designated dining room and a movie-viewing room complete with cushy arm chairs. If a celeb has already snatched it up, book one of two Royal Suites instead. They’re spacious at 1,421 square feet, which includes two bedrooms, two baths and an open living / dining room. 

Families traveling together will feel at home in the Family Suites located on the seventh floor. Each has a mezzanine level with two bedrooms, leaving the lower level free for lounging and looking out over Cape Town. Six Superior Suites, located on the sixth and seventh floors, can be configured to interconnect. We stayed in Room No. 806, an eye-popping Deluxe Superior Suite with stunning panoramic views thanks to its corner location. Take our advice: Don’t leave without filling the tub for one of the most scenic baths you’ll ever enjoy. Up the relaxation factor by uncorking a bottle of wine from The Royal Portfolio’s own label, which you’ll find in your minibar. (We didn’t have time to hit The Silo’s spa, but a hot bath and a glass of red did the trick.) 

The bathroom of Room No. 806, a Deluxe Superior Suite, affords panoramic views giving guests an opportunity to take a scenic bath.

Insiders say that with just 28 rooms, demand is always high, and they advise booking as far in advance as possible. They expect Christmas and New Year to be particularly busy. Everyone on The Silo’s reservations team is highly trained at handling VIP bookings. Contact them at 011-27-021-671-5502 or [email protected].

If you can peel yourself away from the plush, velvet sofa in your suite, head to The Silo Rooftop for a glass of South African shiraz before dinner. The al fresco space, which is home to a sleek, glass-sided swimming pool, gives priority to hotel guests, with only limited reservations available to the public. Tip: Ask ahead to reserve the Sky Terrace, an ultra-private space located just up a set of stairs from the Rooftop. It affords stunning 360-degree views, making it the perfect spot for a spa treatment, yoga session, or even a proposal. Hoon Kim ([email protected]), The Silo’s concierge and guest relations manager, can help set it up.

The Silo Rooftop is an al fresco space, which is home to a sleek, glass-sided pool, and is well-suited to enjoy drinks and snacks.

In fact, as one of only 12 South Africans with the coveted Les Clef’s d’Or designation, Kim is fully equipped to assist with requests of any nature. Take advantage of his connections to score reservations at the wildly popular Pot Luck Club and Test Kitchen restaurants, both located within The Old Biscuit Mill restaurant and retail complex in the city’s artsy Woodstock neighborhood. (If you find yourself at The Biscuit Mill in the morning, don’t miss breakfast and coffee at Saucisse Boutique Deli.) The best meal we had in Cape Town was at Chef Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse and Canteen, cleverly tucked in the back of a kitchen shop on Bree Street. Reservations aren’t accepted, but Kim can help get you there in a private car. While you wait for a table, head to No Reservations, the restaurant’s cozy, cleverly named bar just a few doors down.

If your dining plans include The Silo (we recommend it), ask Kim to reserve a window seat at the Willaston Bar for early evening drinks, and a corner table by the window at the adjacent Granary Cafe for dinner. At the latter, Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert serves up contemporary-style grill house fare complemented by vibrant, locally sourced veggies. (We would’ve been happy to come home with the recipe for her flavorful corn chowder.) 

The Willaston Bar, located on the sixth floor, is named after the first ship to export grain from the original silo complex back in 1924.

In addition to excellent restaurants, art is a major draw in Cape Town. Although The Silo is still in its early days, Kim says that carefully curated art tours around the city are already proving to be a popular request. We enjoyed What If The World, a serene gallery housed in a former synagogue on Argyle Street. Kim will know just where to send you based on your taste, and can get you access to The Vault, The Silo’s own private gallery. Whatever your taste, you won’t want to miss a visit to the brand-new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) once it opens on September 22. It occupies the floors below the hotel, as well as the space containing its 42 colossal, concrete silos. The first museum on the African continent devoted to 21st-century art from Africa and its diaspora, Zeitz MOCAA will house 100 galleries dedicated to a permanent collection; temporary exhibitions; and centers for art education, photography, a Costume Institute and more. When booking at The Silo, ask Kim to arrange a private museum tour to complete your cultural Cape Town escape.  

The Silo’s exterior, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, is  highlighted by the multi-faceted, outward bulging windows.

Getting There:
We flew South African Airways’ business class service direct from JFK to Johannesburg, where we caught a connecting flight to Cape Town. One-stop flights to Johannesburg are offered from major U.S. cities such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

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