Few hotel openings cause a bigger stir than the one from the iconic Silo hotel in Capetown. The recipe sounded promising, taking an old building with a great location and transform it into something modern and luxurious, while still keeping the boutique atmosphere. Did they pull it off?
September is Tourism Month in South Africa and while there are constant investments made to build an even bigger tourism portfolio in this amazing nation, the construction of the Silo hotel and the adjacent Zeitz Mocaa must be one of the highlights in recent years. The South African owners made this hotel one of the showstoppers for international visitors and I’ll explain why.
The old grain silo complex which is located at the famous Victoria & Alfred waterfront was a thorn in the side for everyone who visited this amazing place. The Royal Portfolio, a family owned and run group of luxury hotels had been looking for a Capetown property for several years and this was the ideal opportunity, though it would be a massive challenge to pull it off. They started working with Thomas Heatherwick to transform the exterior into something contemporary and unique. Besides that, they kept as much of the industrial fixtures as possible on the inside, while only keeping the skeleton of the building on the outside to replace the walls with massive pillowed window bays. This instantly brought all the light inside, while giving the future guests the best views of the city. The interior design was done by Liz Biden, one of the owners of The Royal Portfolio, as she has the amazing gift to decorate their properties like no one else can! Lavish colors, wonderful fabrics, amazing art,… She made sure her eclectic style would give the Silo that edge which people would talk about and remember.
The result is simply stunning and not only is the Silo a new landmark on the Capetonian horizon, it’s also a landmark for the African hotel industry. It might only be open for a year now, but it has already won several awards and it will surely continue doing so. Holding only 28 rooms (8 Silo rooms, 6 superior suites, 7 deluxe superior suites, 4 family suites, 2 royal suites and 1 penthouse) which are spread across the 6 floors, it never feels like staying in a hotel, but more like staying in your private luxury condo in one of the global hotspots.
Upon arrival at the hotel, you’ll straight away get an idea of what’s to come. The small reception area downstairs boosts some amazing artwork, while going hand in hand with some of the architectural remains of the former granary. You’re soon whisked upstairs to be greeted at the main reception area by the friendly staff and a glass of bubbly. Perfect way to start your Silo experience.
We stayed in one of the superior suites and pink was the main color dominating the room. Normally I would avoid such rooms, though in The Silo it just works. The room is divided in two levels, with the lounge, balcony, guest toilet and dining room downstairs, and the bedroom, dressing and bathroom upstairs. The steel beams from the old silo are still visible in the room, though all the luxury and attention to detail makes them almost fade away. And of course, the rooms are covered in natural light thanks to the massive windows which also provides amazing views. From our room we had Table mountain, the Victoria & Alfred waterfront and Signal Hill to greet us every time we looked outside. I’ve stayed countless times at Capetown, but you can’t find better views than these.
The rooms are full of art and beautiful furniture and in every room you’ll find a catalogue telling you the story behind all the art which is mainly sourced locally. The mini-bar is fully stocked and everything is included. Besides a large selection of soft drinks, juices and water, there’s also a bottle of red, white and rosé wine which you can take home, or enjoy during your stay. On one of the side tables there’s a crystal decanter filled with sherry for the ones who enjoy a nightcap.
And while all the furniture, decorations and lovely little details grasp your attention, the “pièce de résistance” has to be the bathroom with its massive free standing bath next to the unique window. There’s a sense of ultimate luxury when entering this part of the room, and you instantly feel transported into a celebrity lifestyle. The opulence just draws you in and it’s going to be a hard task to drag yourself out of that bathroom.
But, the Royal Portfolio always has a trick up their sleeve and this time they know exactly how to get you out of that amazing room. You want to know how? By building a lavish rooftop terrace where you can relax, eat, drink and swim the day away. Most of the terrace is for hotel guest only, though there is smaller section where walk-in guests and locals can also enjoy the views and food. But they have to make a reservation, so it never gets too crowded. The stylish pool is strictly hotel guest only and it’s a real treat cause the views from here are just jaw dropping. The whole city is right in front of you and it feels surreal to be swimming at the top of The Silo while looking over this bustling metropolis.
Rather wind down and relax indoors? No problem, The Silo Spa will make sure you’ll do just that. Located on the 4th floor of the hotel, with views over the Zeitz Mocaa (more on that later) it’s the perfect escape from the city. Not only accessible for guest, but also for people staying elsewhere in the city. Or for local South Africans who want to experience one of the top spa’s in Capetown. The treatment rooms are warm and cozy, and the 24k gold signature treatments will rejuvenate you instantly. Rather break a sweat in the sauna or the gym? It’s at the same location, just a different door.
Of course we need to fuel that body too, so which options would a boutique hotel with only 28 rooms offer? Well, besides The Silo rooftop bar where you can enjoy smaller, though equally tasty dishes, there’s the Willaston bar. Its plush sofas, massive chandeliers and views over the city and Table Mountain are the perfect setting for one of the many amazing cocktails. You can also enjoy an a la carte breakfast here. The main dining experience though can be found in the Granary Café. It’s where the hotel guests enjoy their sumptuous breakfast, but also the place where executive chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert lights up all your taste buds. Reservation is needed cause this place is in high demand. During the weekends there’s the Sunday roast which is already became a favorite among Capetonians. Afternoon tea and the royal tea are my personal favorites at the Granary Café. Nothing beats an afternoon indulgence like this. Contemplating on all of these food options I think it is rather impressive, especially knowing The Silo is located only footsteps away from a vast array of restaurants and even a famous food market.
As mentioned, art is a very important part for The Royal Portfolio family, and not only does The Silo hold many art works in their rooms, they also promote emerging African artists in their own special exhibition space called The Vault. It is located at the lower level and boosts the exposure of the local artists. What better way to show the African creativity to guests from all over the world?
If this isn’t enough to satisfy your artistic craving, you might want to check out the Zeitz MOCAA which stands for Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa. It’s the African answer to the Tate Modern in London or the MoMa in New York and it’s located in the former grain silos underneath the hotel. The Silo even includes entrance to the museum for all its guests. The museum is another diamond on the African crown as it boosts the largest collection of contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora in the world.
So, looking back at my stay at The Silo, what do I remember most and why would I go back? Well, I will always remember waking up and looking straight onto Lions Head and Table Mountain from my bed. Few thing can beat those views. I’ll remember the interior (room and public areas) even though it might look completely bonkers, it just works and makes sure the past blends perfectly into the present. And last but not least, the people that make this hotel so special. The Silo promised to be impressive and it absolutely delivered. This new icon just added another star at the Capetown hotel scene, and I’m sure it’s going to shine for a very long time.
Written by Kristof Eyckmans, Luxury travel & Lifestyle Blogger