City break: Why you should visit Cape Town this summer

Take advantage of the city’s rich and curious diversity...

Bizarre as it may sound, Cape Town is a great destination for a short break. Granted, it’s a long-haul flight – a proper three-meal, several-film and swollen ankles kind of flight – but the 12-hour gap between London and the Mother City translates into just a one-hour time difference.

Jumping on the overnight flight from Heathrow, therefore, means your body-clock is no more altered than it would be if you were heading to Paris when you land on African soil the following morning. Only the weather is infinitely better. As is the pace of life. And instead of the Eiffel Tower hogging the horizon it’s the recently-opened Silo Hotel.

City break: Why you should visit Cape Town this summer

The Silo is a significant feat of architectural wizardry, restoring life to the grain elevator portion of the historic grain silo complex; the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa when it was completed in August 1924. It served South Africa’s industrial and agricultural development for nearly 80 years before operations ceased in 2001, but following a hefty investment and refurbishment it is back up and running with an altogether different impetus: wall-to-wall five-star luxury.

Jumping on the overnight flight from Heathrow means your body-clock is no more altered than it would be if you were heading to Paris

The hotel stretches across six floors, distinguishable from the huge five-metre pillowed windows that swell from the building, offering guests triple-aspect views, while the lower four floors are set to become the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa: a curation that will rival the likes of the Tate Modern and MoMA. Exterior designer Thomas Heatherwick was tasked with the transformation; his brief to create something unique and instantly recognisable, while retaining the complex’s cultural significance.

Inside it was Liz Biden’s turn to impress, a designer who has an eye for the unusual. There are 28 vast rooms, including a 211m2 penthouse, and two dining areas – plenty of space to let her creativity run free. She didn’t hold back. Eclectic designs burst from floor to ceiling, baths overlook the Atlantic Ocean, and the decoration is an easy-on-the-eye mix of colourful curations and African pieces.

City break: Why you should visit Cape Town this summer

The sky terrace, however, is where you’ll spend most of your time, enjoying the warm African sun. Featuring a lively bar, an infinity pool and panoramic views of the city, there are few finer places to enjoy fresh oysters and a sundowner, as the boats in the harbour grind to a halt and Cape Town becomes a coruscating hive of lights and activity. Later you’ll head to the Willaston Bar to experience more five-star hospitality in the way of Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert’s casual and contemporary menus – ‘good, honest and approachable food that showcases seasonal, local ingredients’ is the name of the game. 

Approachable, yes. Honest, perhaps. Good, no – they’re being extremely modest. And as a result you’re more likely to suffer from gluttony than you are jet-lag. 

Further Reading