The Silo, Cape Town: The eyesore turned shimmering, luxury hotel

Is this the world's most spectacular view from a hotel terrace? From the lofty pinnacle of Cape Town's newest hotel, The Silo, you have a 360-degree view of this fair city.

Stand on the guests-only sky terrace at sunset with a glass of champagne and twirl slowly for a pink-and-gold panorama of Devil's Peak, Table Mountain, Lion's Head, Signal Hill, the space-age disc of Cape Town Stadium, Table Bay and Robben Island, the far Hottentots Holland Mountains and False Bay's rocky final promontory. You've seen the sights. You can go home now.

In fact, the views throughout this chic V&A Waterfront hotel are consistently wonderful, thanks to the exterior architect Heatherwick Studio's use of 104 pillowed-glass, floor-to-ceiling bulging windows that provide a spectacular lighthouse effect.

The 28-room Silo Hotel has been built ingeniously into the grain elevator of the city's historic grain silo, while the silos themselves will house the landmark Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) opening in September. It will be filled with work created since 2000.

It's appropriate that the Silo Hotel – the newest in The Royal Portfolio's collection that includes Franschhoek's La Residence and the glorious Birkenhead House in Hermanus – is associated with such a symbol of South Africa's cultural future.

The Royal Portfolio owner, Liz Biden, is also responsible for the imaginatively fanciful interiors. Her eclectic style, ingenious use of colour and fabric, plus a vivid collection of art and furniture makes The Silo a contemporary art museum in its own right. It even has its own private art gallery, The Vault, exhibiting emerging local talent.

The building's industrial heritage is an integral part of the interior design. The steel rings originally used inside the grain elevator have inspired the huge circular chandeliers in the bar and Granary Cafe, while the original machine head emerges from the bar floor.

Black steel beams and girders frame the high-ceilinged rooms. The sky-high, ground-floor entrance lobby is a vibrant mix of bare concrete walls, dramatic commissioned art works, the original grain hoppers and a chandelier that plunges through space.

Then there are the rooms. It's fair to say that every one of them is "a room with a view". There are seven room categories based on size and views. Ours could be the most extravagant, but apparently, there are larger ones.


Our downstairs sitting room and mezzanine bedroom, adorned with all manner of beautiful objets d'art, look out over the mountains and, as I discover, there are even views within.

A strange and wizened creature joins me in the bathroom, courtesy of the brutal magnifying mirror. I must soothe myself with a glass of complimentary champagne and a magnificent bath, also with a view.

There are even views behind the sixth-floor reception. The architects have topped the silos with reinforced glass to eventually accommodate a sculpture garden. Look downwards and the huge sweep of the MCAA's interiors is revealed.

There are some initial minor teething problems – the heating in our suite's sitting room isn't working and housekeeping forgets to service the room – but the staff are faultlessly charming and willing.

Capetonians, ever conscious of their city's natural beauty, are flocking here. There's the stylish Willaston Bar, named after the first ship to export the silo's grain in 1924, with its pillow windows framing the view. The Silo Rooftop and pool offers a tempura and raw bar.

There's the Granary Cafe whose food by executive chef, Veronica Canha-Hibbert, formerly of Ellerman House, avoids elaborate degustation, leaning rather to elegant simplicity.

Breakfast is a work of art, particularly the Harvest Table – a multitiered arrangement brought to your table. It includes fabulous muesli, yoghurt, berries and fruit, smoked salmon, charcuterie and cheeses.




Qantas flies from Sydney and South African Airways flies from Perth to Johannesburg. See or


Doubles from $1235, includes breakfast, limited minibar, parking, museum entry. See

Alison Stewart was a guest of The Silo