The Silo finally opens its doors today after months of international anticipation. We popped down the road to check it out.
The Silo strikes an imposing figure in Cape Town’s waterfront. The old grain silo, originally opened in 1924, has been designed by Thomas Heatherwick with convex windows that bulge out of the hotel’s six floors, catching the Cape Town sunshine. The bottom half of the building will house the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA), due to open in September, one of the most exciting new galleries in recent years and Africa’s first major contemporary public art collection. Together the two openings have created quite a buzz.
The company behind the hotel – the Royal Portfolio – already have a strong track record in South Africa. Their existing hotels outside Cape Town – La Residence, Birkenhead House and Royal Malewane – are frequently listed as being amongst the best in the world. The Silo is a different type of hotel for them – based in the city, in the fast-developing Silo District on the waterfront, it is the first hotel of theirs that will be open to the public.
Art is a focal point in The Silo. Striking, vibrant, beautiful and powerful pieces of art are strewn throughout the hotel, creating a different vibe in each room. In the lobby we see giant orchid sculptures made from scarlet false nails that sit alongside the old grain shaft, an industrial relic of the building’s former life.
We head straight up to the rooftop, which is open to the public and has 360° views of Cape Town, Table Mountain and the ocean, a vantage point for both sunrise and sunset. Though it only officially opened today, the sundeck has already seen its first proposal.
Each one of the 28 rooms has been uniquely styled by co-owner Liz Biden, who has an enviable knack of throwing together old and new, quirky and classic, and somehow making the whole thing work. We see her today, still busy at work hanging artwork and moving furniture, which we’re assured she’ll continue to tweak in the weeks to come.
The giant, convex, floor-to-ceiling windows let the light flood in to every room in the hotel. Bathrooms are a signature of the property and each one is huge with generously sized stand-alone bathtubs.
So much of the art has a story. The ‘sweat board’ as it’s charmingly known (pictured above) is so-called because the artist took the sheets of metal into a sauna and lay his body on them, creating these shapes.
Just the right amount of the building’s heritage remains – enough to keep true to the history of the area, but not enough to take away from the beauty of the art and furnishings.
The dried jacaranda leaf chandelier in the stairwell leading to the bar and restaurant area is a personal touch from owners Liz and Phil Biden. Their favourite tree is the colourful jacaranda, which also grow in the gardens around La Residence, a gift from Elton John, who has his own special room in the lavish Franschhoek resort.