The Silo, Cape Town, South Africa

The Silo, Cape Town, South Africa

Spearheaded by British designer Thomas Heatherwick and
hoteliers Liz and Phil Biden, The Silo is Cape Town’s most
expensive hotel; quite the transformation from its grain silo

As Africa’s most expensive, most hyped city hotel, The Silo is something of a hot
commodity. Reimagined by the British designer Thomas Heatherwick,
it’s located in the elevator portion of an historic grain silo
complex. Owners Liz and Phil Biden have transformed the building,
which was once at the heart of South Africa‘s industrial and
agricultural development, into a fun and fanciful destination along
the pedestrianised V&A Waterfront and docklands.

Ascending to The Silo’s check-in desk is a feeling that stays
with us for the duration of our stay. From this height the views
are 360 degrees. The stone-set rooftop pool is strictly residents
only and practically every staff member knows our names.

Horizontally challenged, The Silo doesn’t offer a great deal of
space to wander in public areas – a proportional contrast to the
over-sized bedrooms for those lucky (and wealthy) enough to call
themselves “guests”. Hotelier Liz Biden has splashed her golden
brush over each of the hotel’s 28 bedrooms, with a double dip of
exuberance and bucket loads of razzmatazz. With Instagram-famous,
pillowed-glass windows, chandeliers in the bathrooms and a
complimentary minibar that’s restocked daily, rooms deliver their
promise of indulgence.

A great spot to visit with friends
(preferably those with deep pockets and a liking for contemporary
art) this is not somewhere many can afford to stay too long, but is
undeniably somewhere worth indulging your curiosity (if only for an
evening tipple).


If you’ve flown long-haul, sleep is probably high up on your
agenda. Beds at The Silo are exceedingly comfortable, with linens
crisp to the touch and pillows fluffed to bursting point.

While everyone ogles over the free-standing baths framed by
pillowed-glass windows, it’s the power showers that have real
appeal for us, along with the choice of robe – will it be the silk
or towel today? Bathroom shelves are stocked with a mixture of
products including those from Cape Town-based Charlotte Rhys and
the ever-classic Penhaligon’s.

Decorated with multiple sofas, banana-leaf pattern rugs, zany
ceramic lamps and lime-lacquered cabinets – the list of design
features is infinite – bedrooms feel more like miniature homes than
hotel suites. The minibar is stocked full of complimentary goodies,
including an elaborate snack box which demands to be eaten
(literally, the label reads: “Eat Me”), soft drinks, wine, water
and beer – all of which are replenished daily. It’s enough to feed
and water a small family. And if you are, a small family that is,
then the family rooms spread across two floors, make cabin fever
highly unlikely – especially with views of the docklands.

What’s for breakfast?

Break your fast with a selection of freshly baked carbohydrates.
An afternoon-tea stand loaded with pastries, cinnamon-flavoured
mini doughnuts, cheeses, smoked salmon and fresh fruits arrives to
your table with in moments of your seating. It’s quickly followed
by a delicate portion of rose petal granola (sampled on a rose-gold
spoon). Then it’s on to the à la carte. Avocado and eggs on toast
topped with sumac and feta is just the ticket.

How about lunch and dinner?

The sixth floor’s Granary Café has a brasserie-style menu that’s
a good option for lunch or dinner. Grab a spot on the leopard- or
giraffe- print banquette and peruse South African chef Veronica
Canha-Hibbert’s menu – which includes a small raw bar selection.
Confit pork belly and steak frites are among the more popular
plates on offer, but for something more “casual” – oysters and Dom?
– guests can make tracks for the rooftop which offers a condensed
menu. Order dessert to the room; the apricot sorbet with miso
caramel and sesame sponge will melt in your mouth.

Is there a bar?

The Willaston Bar – named after the first ship to export grain
from the original silo building in 1924 – shakes up a varied drinks
menu, including a selection of coffees, cocktails, gins and wines
by the glass. Come just before sundown, occupy a butter-soft, blue
leather bar stool (or a seat at one of the velvety jewel-toned
booths) and take in aerial views of the V&A Waterfront as the
sun melts away over the horizon.


There’s a gym, a spa on the fourth floor, a rooftop pool and
free parking for hotel residents on P3. On level P3 you’ll also
find The Vault – The Silo Hotel’s private art gallery exhibiting
upcoming African artists. See something you fancy? Let the
concierge know and they’ll slide a price list under your bedroom

Things you should know

Breakfast is included in your room rate. Once you’ve had your
fill, head to the mezzanine level to explore the compact, but cosy

. The Library runs a book-exchange policy ­so make the
most of it and offload that book you’ve been reading (well, hauling
around in your bag for the last six months) – and make tracks for
the resident’s
rooftop pool
with something new.

Within a short walk I can find…

Easily seen from the rooftop of the hotel, Robben Island is
situated 9km offshore. Owing to the fact that it was the forced
home of Nelson Mandela for 27 years, during his time as a political
prisoner of the apartheid regime, pre-booking is advised.

The Zeitz MOCAA gallery (South Africa’s answer to Tate Modern)
sits directly below The Silo – ask the concierge for private art