Last February, I enjoyed a sublime holiday that I will remember as my most epic journey ever: a trip to Cape Town (South Africa) and Antarctica (the 7th Continent). You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: KLM Boeing 787 Business Class from Amsterdam to Cape Town
- Review: One&Only Cape Town, South Africa
- Review: The Silo Hotel Cape Town, South Africa (today)
- Review: First Class flight from Cape Town to Antarctica in a private Airbus A340 jet
- Review: Echo Camp by White Desert, Antarctica
- Review: Trip to the South Pole & Emperor penguins
- Review: Private Airbus A340 First Class flight from Antarctica to Cape Town
- Review: KLM Boeing 777 Business Class from Cape Town to Amsterdam
Today: Review of The Silo Hotel, Cape Town (South Africa)
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: The Silo Cape Town
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
Topping Cape Town’s Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) at the bustling V&A Waterfront, the family-owned Silo Hotel hits all the high notes. The former grain elevator was reimagined from rough concrete into diamond, with crystalline windows and a whimsical elegance. Guests can watch the bustle below while soaking in a freestanding tub in one of 28 lofty rooms, designed with a bold mix of colors, prints, and textures. Champagne and carving trolleys roll through the hotel’s signature restaurant The Granary Café, and the spa is sumptuously serene. A highlight of the hotel is its spectacular wraparound rooftop terrace, which features an infinity pool, two bars and several lounge areas.
Have you ever stayed at The Silo Hotel Cape Town? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The Silo Hotel enjoys an excellent location on the outskirts of Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The latter is a lively hub of world-class eateries, designer shops, talented street performers, family-friendly activities, and authentic arts & crafts from the Cape, all gathered together on the historic working harbour in the shadow of Table Mountain. Both ocean and mountain activities are on your doorstep when staying at The Silo Hotel, since the V&A Waterfront is the center of it all, acting as a departure point for guided whale excursions, sunset catamaran tours, or stand-up paddle boarding for a self-guided voyage around the harbor.
- The Silo Hotel is located in a historic grain silo building, which was completed in 1924. The building, once the tallest in Sub-Saharan Africa, standing proud at 57 m (187 ft), was used for nearly 80 years as a grain silo providing crucial infrastructure to the country’s agricultural and industrial development. The last shipment of grain to Europe was on board the MV Anangel Wisdom in 1995 and the grain silo ceased operations in 2001. The building was reimagined by UK industrial designer Thomas Heatherwick, who incorporated many of the structure’s original industrial features. One of the building’s most remarkable newly added features are the pillowed glazing panels, inserted into the geometry of the hotel floors, which bulge outward as if gently inflated. The hotel is located in the grain elevator portion of the building – often dubbed the ‘elevator tower’ – which used to sort the grain before conveying the grain into the 42 storage silos.
- Located on the ground floor of the silo building, the lobby sets the scene for the contrast between old and new design showcased throughout The Silo Hotel. Suspended from the double volume ceiling hangs Haldane Martin’s contemporary chandelier, juxtaposed against the original grain hoppers. Mohau Modisakeng’s Ditaola series, commissioned pieces by Jody Paulsen, Must be the Rain and So Exotic, and Frances Goodman’s Hooded Lady I, II & III help showcase this contrasting theme. Continuing up to Level Six is the reception area, which is flanked by the Granary Café on one side and Willaston Bar on the other side. All spaces display unique variations of whimsical interior ornaments, colorful contemporary African art, and an original machine head emerging from what was once the distribution floor of the grain silo working house. The enormous windows offer birds-eye views of the city, the harbor and the iconic Table Mountain.
- The redeveloped building is a beautifully contrasted mixture of historic infrastructure and a modern decor. This stark contrast between old and new is augmented by the lively and eclectic style of interior design, a quirky distinction from the cold, raw feel of the building’s exterior. The interiors were designed by hotelier Liz Biden, who owns The Silo hotel and its parent company, The Royal Portfolio, along with her husband, Phil. Drawing inspiration from her travels around the world, Ms Biden has acquired a unique and varied collection of art and interior artefacts that complements that of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) situated below The Silo Hotel. The collection highlights both young, aspiring artists, as well as established, highly acclaimed artists such as Cyrus Kabiru, Mahau Modisakeng and Nandipha Mntambo. The hotel even features a subterranean private art gallery – called The Vault – which acts as a link between the hotel and local galleries in Cape Town.
- The Silo Hotel features only 28 spacious rooms that come in 6 categories, including a spectacular one bedroom penthouse. The rooms are more spacious vertically than horizontally due to the unique architecture of The Silo and in particular the ingenious design of the pillowed window bays which are one of the hotel’s key architectural features. Each room has been individually designed and opulently decorated with contemporary African art by Liz Biden, with colorful and eclectic pieces juxtaposing the modern, industrial architecture. During my visit, I stayed in a Duplex Suite on the hotel’s 6th floor which came with a lovely view of the harbor. The suite had an upstairs area with a sitting room & dining corner and a downstairs area with a bedroom, small balcony, and a palatial bathroom equipped with standalone bathtub, walk-in shower and double vanity. The suite felt more like a lavish luxury apartment in Cape Town than a hotel room.
- The Silo Hotel features a stunning wraparound terrace on its top floor, which offers spectacular 360° views of the city, harbor, Atlantic Ocean, and Cape Town’s three famous mountain peaks: Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain. One part of the al fresco space is reserved for in-house guests: it features a sleek, glass-sided swimming pool on the terrace’s western side, as well as a snack bar with some sitting areas and sunbeds directly facing Table Mountain. The other side of the rooftop is open to the public and comprises a chic bar and lounge zone facing the harbor and Atlantic Ocean (it can get very busy and crowded here in the late afternoon). Enjoying a poolside meal alongside a glass of bubbly, fine South African wine or sipping on a crafted cocktail while soaking up the last of the day’s sunshine rank among the finest moments that guests can experience while staying at the hotel.
- The Royal Portfolio properties are renowned for their dining, and The Silo Hotel does not disappoint. The property features two restaurants, which are open to both resident and non-resident guests:
- Located on the 6th floor is The Granary Café, the hotel’s signature restaurant, which offers uninterrupted views through its 5.5 m (18 ft) high pillowed-glass windows. The venue serves contemporary dishes created by Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert and her passionate team, which are complemented by a carefully curated, exclusive wine list. Each morning, an à la carte breakfast is also served at The Granary Café.
- Also located on the hotel’s 6th floor is the Willaston Bar, a vibrant space with eclectic interiors and a carefully curated wine list. Here, guests can unwind with a crafted cocktail alongside a selection of classic bar snacks, small plates or lunch. The Willaston Bar is named after the first ship to carry grain from the silo complex to Europe in 1924, the SS Willaston.
- The Silo Hotel features an intimate wellness center on its 4th floor. The spa represents an oasis of peace and relaxation in the city center, offering a regenerative journey towards enhanced wellbeing. Facilities include several treatment rooms (including one double-treatment room), a sauna and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area. Guests can benefit from the latest therapies, spa techniques, and signature treatments which can be personalised to meet specific wellness requirements. Expert therapists use top local and international products including Ling and Black Pearl. The spa’s signature treatment is a 24 Carat Body Ritual, comprised of a vanilla and patchouli body polish followed by a 24-Carat Gold massage, encouraging relaxation of tired muscles. Next to the spa is a well-equipped fitness center, which allows for work-outs with city views.
- The Silo Hotel is part of the Royal Portfolio, a collection of South African luxury hotels and private residences owned and run by the Biden family. The story of The Royal Portfolio began in 1999 when Liz and Phil Biden converted their family holiday home into Royal Malewane in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park, offering an unrivaled luxury safari experience alongside Africa’s most qualified guiding team. The Bidens soon opened Birkenhead House in the whale watching paradise of Hermanus, offering a coastal experience focused on the region’s wonderful beaches. La Residence in Franschhoek followed, a tranquil and opulent wine estate in the heart of Franschhoek – South Africa’s gourmet capital. The Silo Hotel is the latest chapter in the story. It completes the circuit of quintessentially South African luxury travel experiences adding Cape Town’s art, culture and design to the hotel group’s existing offerings.
- The building which houses The Silo Hotel is considered as a work of art and an architectural jewel, offering its beautifully reimagined structure as an industrial canvas that highlights the very best of African art and design. The building is also home to Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), which 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 houses 100 galleries dedicated to a permanent collection; temporary exhibitions; and centers for art education, photography, a Costume Institute and more, all supporting the emergence of artists and putting a global magnifying glass on African expression. The museum also includes an Atelier artist residency, a retail shop, rooftop restaurant and a coffee shop. Private museum tours can be booked via the hotel’s concierge desk.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- The Silo Hotel is a deeply personal project of owner Liz Biden, who has designed every part of the interiors herself. The result is a fabulous, unexpected and visually overwhelming decor that is all about art and Africa. While some guests will love the quirky design, it might not fit the taste of others, although one thing is for sure: it will leave an impression that you will not easily forget.
- The hotel’s rooftop terrace – with its pool and lounge areas – is a showstopper, offering magnificent views of Cape Town’s cityscape, Table Mountain and Signal Hill. However, it can get a little crowded here, especially on warm summer days, and there isn’t a lot of seating by the pool (only 4 sunbeds as well as some lounge areas, which are reserved for hotel guests). Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful place to hang out and enjoy a glass of wine, especially around sunset.
- The room rates at The Silo Hotel are very high (and higher than at its five star competitors in town: Ellerman House and One&Only). For example, during the busy summer months, the entry room rates are above 1200 euros per room per night. Some will say that you cannot justify spending that amount of money per night in a city like Cape Town, where other (albeit less impressive) luxury hotels can be booked for less than half of the price. However, keep in mind that Liz Biden and her family have creating an iconic venue that clearly surpasses all other hotels in Cape Town. The focus of the property is on architecture, design and views while never scarifying comfort, and that is what you are ultimately paying for.
- All rooms are located on the silo’s upper floors, so they all enjoy panoramic views. However, only half of the rooms have a direct view of Table Mountain, while the other rooms face the other way and look out over the harbor, which is not nearly as impressive as the view of Table Mountain. Unfortunately, the hotel’s website makes it not very clear which rooms have mountain views. If I were to stay again, I would definitely ask for a room with view of Table Mountain, as the opposite view just wasn’t as pretty.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 10/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 10/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 8/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: exceptional 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like The Silo Town (and/or receive many free perks).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Cape Town’s hot, dry summer months run from late October to early April. Temperatures reach their peak between December and February, and this is generally seen as when to go to Cape Town for the best beach weather. During the winter months (June to September), the weather can be wet, cold and overcast (limiting outdoor activities).
HOW TO GET THERE
The Silo Hotel is a 25 minute drive from Cape Town International Airport. The latter is served by several major European, American, Asian and African airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Cape Town International Airport for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Cape Town.
Below is a selection of my photos of The Silo Hotel Cape Town. To view more photos (including breakfast and dinner at The Granary Café), click here.