Unique is a word that’s often overused but there’s no doubt that The Silo Hotel, which sits at the heart of Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, is one of a kind. Striking from the outside and eclectically beautiful on the inside, this part art gallery, part hotel reflects the city’s changing fortunes; who would have thought that a century-old concrete grain storage unit would be the spot of choice to create an ultra-luxe hotel? We take a look at the elements that make The Silo Hotel stand out from the crowd and make it perhaps the most exclusive hotel in Cape Town.
The Silo’s story begins when Cape Town’s harbour was a hub of industry rather than the lively entertainment district it is today. In 1924, a great concrete structure made up of 42 silos that each held up to 30,000 tonnes of wheat, maize and soya, was constructed just steps from the waterfront. Ships destined for far-flung ports would dock, packed with grains grown all over South Africa.
The silos were used for their original purpose for almost 80 years before the building was abandoned in 2001. It wasn’t until the regeneration of the city’s incredibly popular Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, over a decade later, that this building got a new lease of life.
You could hardly imagine a more eye-catching urban hotel – the soaring cylindrical exterior is topped by a lattice of concrete pillars and multi-faceted windows that catch the sunlight on clear Cape days.
From the inside, these floor-to-ceiling works of engineering art frame the city skyline, ocean and Table Mountain perfectly; the views are jaw-dropping at every turn. Like any five-star hotel worth its salt, The Silo also features a spa, a world-class restaurant and a top-notch bar which our Africa specialist Adele visited for drinks on her recent trip to Cape Town.
You may recognise The Silo from Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby, a behind-the-scenes BBC programme presented by chef Monica Galetti and food writer Giles Coren. The episode gave us a glimpse into the hotel’s unrivalled art collection, the distinctive rooms, the out-of-this-world service and the 11th-floor rooftop terrace. If the views from your room, the bar or restaurant aren’t enough, head up here for 360-degree vistas and a dip in the sky-high infinity pool. On a clear day, you can see as far as Robben Island.
Aside from its standout architecture, the jewel in the hotel’s crown is definitely its focus on modern art. And in particular, African art. The Silo shares the historic building with the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) – the largest modern African art museum in the world. This not-for-profit institution celebrates 21st-Century African artists from every corner of the continent and beyond in over 100 galleries spread out across nine floors. What’s more, the interior of the museum is a work of structural splendour; a handful of the original storage cylinders have been cut away to create a cross section of the past and a soaring cathedral-like atmosphere.
The journey through African art doesn’t end at the museum exit. The rooms and public spaces up in the hotel are like a mini gallery themselves with works collected from across the continent by the hotel’s owner, Liz Biden. No two rooms are the same when it comes to style as all the art works and eclectic furnishings have been hand-picked to create unique and sublimely comfortable spaces. There’s no mistaking you’re in Africa at The Silo Hotel.
Finally, there’s The Vault, the hotel’s exclusive subterranean gallery where local artists’ work is exhibited on a six-month rotation. Liz Biden champions up-and-coming painters from around Africa and gives them a space to showcase their incredible talent and get their work in front of collectors and art lovers. All but one of the art works are for sale – the final piece is kept by The Silo and added to the hotel’s carefully curated collection.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Louise, who's travelled extensively in Botswana. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the rangers who'll ensure you'll spot the best wildlife in Chobe, the village chiefs who'll give you an insight into local life and the helicopter pilots who can land you on an island in the Delta never visited by humans before.
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