Public Relations Consultant & Travel Contributing Editor

New Silo Complex brings sustainable design and best-of-breed hospitality to harbour.

New Silo Complex brings sustainable design and best-of-breed hospitality to harbour.


As first published in Explore South Africa magazine.

Available beds in the greater Victoria & Alfred Waterfront have been given a further boost with the launch last year of two new hotels in the recently developed Silo District. With corporate clients such as investment firm Allan Gray along with residential units, The Silo is also home to Cape Town’s first Virgin Active Collection health club. The most talked about aspect, however, is the architecturally stunning conversion of the original grain silos by acclaimed UK firm Heatherwick Studio. The Zeitz MOCAA easily competes with the likes of the MOMA or the Guggenheim in terms of its architectural interest. And, The Silo Hotel, a Royal Portfolio property, may well have the 28 most sought-after suites in the land.

By contrast, The Radisson Red, a Southern African first for this Radisson marque that positions itself on a hip and young-at-heart platform, offers 252 studios with Scandinavian pared-down designs. Perhaps signalling the move away from the traditional check-in reception desk, here check-in work stations sit comfortably among shared long work tables and a table-tennis set up. There are games galore.

In keeping with the trending DIY and on-demand ethos, the OUIBar + KTCHN features food-on-the-go options and DIY barista coffee and, as if channeling Henry Ford, one can have one’s eggs in any ways provided they are scrambled. 

Youthfulness is evident in the staff complement who, even those few with more mature years, seem comfortable in their branded Radisson Red Tee-shirts and casual jeans. If you have a skateboard, this hotel is for you. Youth, and the related vibes of music and art, are celebrated here which even titrates to their social conscience initiatives such as the socks available for sale which supports social projects. Guests without smart phones will probably not feel at home here as the Red App is intended to be used as one’s keycard to open studio doors, to order food and even to check in and out, although it wasn’t working the day we stayed.

Another highlight is the roof-top bar, eatery and lap pool. Taking the food-truck concept a step further, or better yet, elevating it – the bar on the Radisson Red Roof Top is in a converted fire-engine red Bedford truck. It must have been quite a sight seeing a red truck being lifted onto the top of the building.

Long shared dining tables and a take-a-selfie-as-you-enter the eatery all speak to the needs of today’s socially connected generation. Standouts include a sprung mattress, generously designed walk-in shower and ground floor gin bar, all perfectly on trend. Great coffee, good bed, rain shower, HD smart TVs and strong free Wifi: if that’s what you want when you travel (and who doesn’t) there’s no need to look any further. 


Although just a few paces apart, The Silo Hotel owner Liz Biden’s more-is-more approach to decor and luxury is what you’ll find at The Silo Hotel. If, that is, you’re among the select few who can afford to enjoy such fine hospitality. In a departure for The Royal Portfolio collection, The Silo is open to walk-ins for its food and beverage offerings and its roof-top, once the highest point in sub-Saharan Africa, is the most sought-after place to be seen. 

Day trippers can refresh themselves at The Willaston Bar and Granary Café on the sixth floor and the rooftop bar and restaurant. With panoramic views of Table Mountain and Robben Island in the Atlantic Ocean, The Silo Hotel welcomes both international and local visitors. The Willaston  Bar takes its name from the first ship to transport grain from the port while the Wisdom Room, a magnificent private dining facility, takes its name from the last ship to transport grain. 

Although the alpha to omega in luxury is celebrated at all Royal Portfolio hotels, here Biden’s exquisite eye and attention to detail was framed by the architectural wonder that is the Silo building. The museum portion is hewn from concrete with such finesse as to create the illusion of a single shaft of wheat while the hotel, in the part of the building that previously housed the grain elevator,  is a beacon of luxury light with its multi-faceted windows that evoke the idea of a lantern. That The Silo Hotel is a shining light in hospitality circles is a given. Their commitment to showcasing the very best of local artisan talent the fabrics and ceramics of Ardmore for example, are coupled with textures of Hermes, while, hand-made individual sets of cutlery and crockery for in-room use, sit comfortably with a full range of Penhaligon’s Quercus bathroom amenities. Each detail is considered: From the 100% compostable bags that contain the in-room artisan snack selection which biodegrades within a 100-days to the water-wise bathroom fixtures and special yellow-glow lighting for the 80 hand-made Egyptian crystal chandeliers. Even the stunning art collection in the rooms rivals what’s on the walls of the Zeitz MOCAA next door. And, taking art curation a step further, The Silo Hotel showcases local artists in The Vault, a not-for-profit gallery space in the subterranean reception for guests who enter from the parking level. Work showcased in The Vault will be compiled into a collector’s edition coffee table book.

Owner Liz Biden explains her design outlook: “My goal has always been to pay tribute to luxury and comfort for our guests. This has meant balancing the stark and industrial style of the architecture with aspects of classic glamour and modern comfort. Decorating this property has welcomed new challenges. It is very different from the rest of The Royal Portfolio. Space, for one, is restricted by the two core elevator shafts running through the building as well as the cubic geometry of each floor. My style is my own. I don’t work to any rules and I never chase trends. However, much of my inspiration comes from two of my good friends the late Ralph Krall and Colleen Kosoy. Brightening the interior spaces and offering our guests unique, eclectic, and luxurious comfort.”

Biden really is now the queen bee of waterfront accommodations. First she had the penthouse, The One Above of the One&Only Hotel Cape Town, nearby as the crow flies, and now she has The Silo Hotel too. If you are after the best of the best you are at the right address.

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