Ten days ago, on its third day of operation, hotelier and writer Llewellyn Lambert, architect Jan de Wet, and I went to visit The Silo Hotel in the commercial side of the V & A Waterfront. We were blown away by the luxury of the interior decor, the generosity of spaciousness, and the extreme friendliness of the staff, hallmarks of the operations of The Royal Portfolio. I returned nine days later, to have a second lunch at The Silo Rooftop.
While I struggled to find the entrance into the hotel from the parking on the P3 level, everything went uphill from the time I met doormen Pathy, who showed me to the entrance door and the lift to get to the sixth floor. Art by Kate Gottgens is exhibited in the entrance hall (called The Vault), and a collaboration with smac gallery is visible from brochures on the counter. Every six months another South African artist will be exhibited here. But it is the lift that gives one a taste of what is to come inside The Silo Hotel, with wood-paneled mirrors, and a magnificent crystal chandelier, elevating hospitality in Cape Town to an as yet unprecedented level.
One arrives on the 6th floor, with the Reception desk in a striking red, a central seating area, two beautiful custom-made tables, one holding an ice bucket and champagne flutes in specially created holes, and the other a marble top for platters. In the central area is a display of masks, mainly African. There appears to be a shop too, although I did not enter it. A massive ceiling lamp reflects the distinctive hexagonal pattern that has become synonymous with the hotel. An impressive chandelier of Jacaranda pods hangs alongside the staircase. To the Table Mountain side one enters a lounge and bar area, the leather seating in shades of blue and green, and the Willaston Bar. The view onto our city’s icon Table Mountain is magnificent. The Bar was named after the SS Willaston, which transported the first load of grain to Europe late in 1924. The last grain shipment from the silo was in 1995, on board the SS Wisdom, after which the hotel’s largest private dining room The Wisdom Room has been named. In 2001 the grain silo complex was closed down. The Silo Hotel building is the tallest in the Waterfront, at 65 meters.
The Willaston Bar has desk lamps of which I did not initially notice the detail on its ‘stem’, having mushroom ‘petals’, until a second visit later in the day and waiting at the Bar. On the Waterfront side is another (small) lounge, which one walks through (but does not see from the Reception) to get to The Granary Café for breakfast and dinner.
The 57 meter high building (the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa when erected in 1924) in which the hotel is housed is a heritage site, having been the elevator of the original grain silo complex. The elevator head (right) is visible just off the Reception desk, and the hotel is under strict instructions to not touch it, not paint it, or even dust it. Linked to it is hanging seats, which can be used by guests to the hotel. Architect for the project was Thomas Heatherwick from Heatherwick Studio in the U.K., working in conjunction with local Rick Brown Associates Architects.
The Silo Hotel will be linked to the über Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), which will open alongside, and the two entities share the fourth and fifth floors of the building. Zeitz MOCAA is a non-profit partnership with the Waterfront, and Kenyan-based Jochen Zeitz’s art collection will form part of the opening collection.
We went by lift to the 11th floor, to The Silo Rooftop Bar and light meal eatery. One walks past green-striped deck ‘loungers’ to get to the eatery and bar tables. An informal counter allows the staff to prepare the drinks and meals. A Green Egg is used to prepare the meals, the only cooking facility for this level. We were intrigued by the mix of furniture on the rooftop, some chairs with woven backs, giving a hexagonal effect, reflecting the design in each window of the hotel, whether the lounge, dining room, the Bar, the bedrooms, or bathrooms. We were unanimous in not liking the yellow umbrellas, in that they do not reflect the luxury fittings elsewhere in the hotel. A surprise too was the artificial grass on the Rooftop, but it was explained to us that it was a water-saving measure. Heaters, blankets, and a canopy cover are planned for the Rooftop.
It was on the Rooftop that we met Wes du Plessis, The Duty Manager, who was previously at La
Residence in Franschhoek; GM Luis Pinheiro, who was formerly at the Leeu Collection in Franschhoek (right); Simon Mandy, The Royal Portfolio General Manager Sales & Marketing, who was hands-on in helping out on The Silo Rooftop; André Pieters, Guest Relations Manager; Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert, formerly of Ellerman House; and the ultimate first prize, owner Liz Biden. I had been to events at La Residence in Franschhoek, another The Royal Portfolio property, and had seen Liz from a distance, so was delighted that I could personally congratulate her on the magnificent new property. She was with Colleen Kosoy, her close friend and colleague in decorating The Royal Portfolio properties. The hands-on owner immediately observed that the window cleaners had left the ropes behind, potentially visible to guests. We realized that with so much glass in the building the windows would have to be cleaned very frequently. I will post a separate review of The Silo Rooftop.
On the 11th floor is the swimming pool, which was still being finalized. It had a canopy cover temporarily, to prevent the water from evaporating. We loved the design which the rain from the night before had made, accumulating on the canopy roof, giving it a wave effect and we thought it was intended to look like this. We were told that the water would be used to fill the pool, and that the canopy has since been removed. The pool overlooks Signal Hill and the Cape Town Stadium. Note: The pool is now complete, and the canopy removed. It looks magnificent!
We found the twelfth floor, a walk up stairs, the furnishing not completed as yet, and offers hotel guests a more private area to enjoy the sun and the even more magnificent view, with loungers on the deck. They may set up a private dining table in this space too.
We were so impressed with what we had seen already that we decided to return for dinner at The Granary Café. We were promised a tour, to show us some of the rooms of the hotel too.
We returned at 18h00, and Dylan van Blerk, the Restaurant Manager, offered Colleen and I a glass of Morena Brut Rosé MCC from Franschhoek. Colleen and I had bumped into each other at Reception on arrival, and she offered to show us some of the rooms and the superb Penthouse. Whilst we were waiting for Jan and Llewellyn to return, Colleen and I sat in the Willaston Bar, and enjoyed the Morena bubbly, served in exquisite Riedel coupes. This style of glass has recently become my favorite for drinking champagne and sparkling wine.
One thing I noticed on my day at The Silo Hotel was the artwork, hand-picked by Liz and Colleen, by some artists whose work will also be exhibited at the Zeitz MOCAA. Works of commissioned artists Frances Goodman, Jody Paulson, and Pierre Carl Vermeulen hang in the hotel. On every floor, opposite the lifts, a work by Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru hangs, from his C-Stunner series, in which he overlays eyewear over portraits of himself (right). Works by Sidley McAdam are in some of the bedrooms.
Ardmore Ceramics are displayed in a cabinet, and we were impressed to hear that a company in Italy had been commissioned to create a fabric inspired by the Ceramics, for use in upholstering a couch in the hotel. The hotel uses the ceramics created by Diana Ferreira and Mervyn Gers in its restaurants.
An information sheet informed that the hotel has 82 windows, each window having 56 panels of glass. On the sixth and seventh floors the windows are 5,5 meters tall, and become shorter on the higher floors.
As Colleen had lived and breathed the interior decor with Liz for the past four years, she was the most perfect person to show us the Penthouse, and then some of the suites. Every decor item has been painstakingly planned, and nothing has been left to chance. Colours are strong, and sometimes contrasting, or used in harmony with each other. Colleen emphasized that each bathroom has a full window, with a view onto one of Cape Town’s beauty spots.
We started off at the Penthouse, which can sleep up to four persons if the neighboring suite is added. On Social Media the Festive Season (15 December – 5 January) rate of the Penthouse at R140000 per night created discussion, without the persons criticizing the rate having seen its size and furnishings! The High Season rate is R110000 per day, while the Low Season rate is R75000 per day.
The colour scheme of the Penthouse is predominantly yellow. It consists of a lounge facing Table Mountain and Signal Hill, an open plan dining room facing east, a butler kitchen, a bathroom, a private cinema, a treatment room, massive walk-in wardrobes, a very spacious bedroom facing west, and an even bigger bathroom. I loved the wardrobes which housed the room mini bars, especially the one in the Penthouse. Each such Room Bar wardrobe has a set of three suitcases on top of it, a recognizable decor touch. The television screen is housed in a unit at the end of the bed, which pops up when activated.
Colleen told us that they sourced the decor items from local suppliers, even though some of the items may have been imported by the supplier. Every bathroom has a different black and white floor tile design. We were impressed with the Persian carpets used in every room, blending perfectly into the room decor. Some had been overdyed, to create a weathered look.
The neighboring suite was focused on red fixtures and fittings, offset with white.
I loved the bold decor of one of the Royal Suites, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, one facing east and the other west, with a central lounge. One bedroom was designed in shades of pink, while the other bedroom unusually contrasted blue in the headboard and pink in the bedside tables. I loved the wire pig on top of a wall unit in the lounge! The bathroom photograph above was taken in one of the Royal Suites. I loved the specially-made Perspex product holders stretching across the free-standing baths, on which the bathroom amenities were placed.
In the Royal Suite was the work of art (left) by Pierre Mullin, Colleen telling us that the artist is up and coming.
There are 27 rooms and suites, and the Penthouse, in The Silo Hotel. Silo rooms cost R12000 per night in Low Season, and R19500 in the Festive Season. The
two Royal Suites cost R41000 in Low Season and R66000 in the Festive Season, per night each. Rates include a full English breakfast, a ‘limited mini bar’, access to the gym and spa facilities, parking, and wifi. Of concern is that ‘children of all ages are welcome’.
The tour of some of the hotel rooms was followed by dinner at The Granary Café, of which my Review follows below:
The opulent quality of the decor, the generosity of space, and the friendliness of the management impressed us on our dual visits to The Silo Hotel, so much so that I will be returning for lunch on The Silo Rooftop later this week. Liz Biden and her team deserve every accolade they receive for the creativity displayed in the creation of the hotel. The Silo Hotel is Cape Town’s new accommodation jewel, wearing the Tourism crown in our world class city.
The Silo Hotel, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 671-5502 (The Royal Portfolio central reservations) Tel (021) 670-0500 www.thesilohotel.com www.theroyalportfolio.com Twitter: @TheSiloHotel @Royal_Portfolio Instagram: @thesilohotel_ @theroyalportfolio
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein