Located in South Africa’s oldest working harbour against a backdrop of Table Mountain, Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, as popular opinion will tell you, cannot be bettered. And while property development has swept the eternally buzzing area, a few heritage icons have remained untouched. So, when the V&A deliberated on the fate of the country’s former grain silo building, it was a given that it would become something special. Now, some sixteen years after granary operations ceased, the Mother City welcomes its latest gem, The Silo Hotel.
Originally built in 1924, the silo’s grain elevator plays home to the property, occupying the six floors above Zeitz MOCAA – the highly anticipated Museum of Contemporary African Art due to open later this year. Outside, London-based designer Thomas Heatherwick has maintained the landmark’s skyline status as a harbour beacon, with dramatic glass-pillowed windows, bubble-wrapping the façade. All 82 of the Heatherwick Studio creations were locally manufactured and crane-lifted, paying homage to the building’s history as the half-grain geometries glow outwardly at night.
Inside, owner Liz Biden has created eccentric interiors to soften the industrial inheritances. Egyptian chandeliers take advantage of ceiling heights, while the walls are in keeping with the Zeitz MOCAA exhibits below, hosting contemporary African works with commissions from Frances Goodman, Jody Paulsen and Pierre Carl Vermeulen. Most notable in all 28 rooms are the signature bathrooms: equally sized throughout, guests can soak in spectacular city views from the tub, unhindered by the floor-to-ceiling glass portholes. Those seeking out further relaxation can find it in a five-room spa that rounds out the fourth floor.
While a profusion of restaurants are within walking distance, Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert will tempt most to stay in. The Willaston Bar – named after the first European-bound grain ship to leave the silo complex – is the perfect spot for a cocktail before heading to The Granary, where Canha-Hibbert’s French bistro menu is filled with classics such as bouillabaisse and steak frites. For a simplified menu, the eleventh floor hosts a rooftop bar and restaurant, wrapped by a pool and viewing deck. Atop Sub-Sahara’s once-tallest building, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d experienced the best of the city, without having taken a step out the hotel’s front door.