Once in a while, a hotel comes along that is breathtakingly imaginative and original. The Silo, which opened last year on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, is just such a property. Housed within a 187-foot grain silo, dating to 1924, it shares the converted industrial structure with the dazzling new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The hotel is the brainchild of South African designer Liz Biden, whose portfolio includes a safari lodge (Royal Malewane), a wine-country estate (La Residence) and a beachfront retreat (Birkenhead House), all of which are established favorites of Hideaway Report readers.
On arrival, we were shown to our Deluxe Superior Suite. I am not easily impressed, but as the door swung open, I could not restrain an involuntary exclamation of delight. The 18-foot-high latticed windows provided a 180-degree view that stretched from the lower slopes of Table Mountain to the distant smudge of Robben Island. Biden delights in bold colors and improbable juxtapositions, and our accommodations offered voluptuous comfort and a cheerful, theatrical atmosphere. I quickly concluded that it was one of the most spectacular and enjoyable hotel rooms that I’d seen in years. The Granary Café on the sixth floor serves contemporary interpretations of classics like steak frites and bouillabaisse in a dramatic postindustrial setting, complemented by an impressive collection of contemporary paintings. While on the 11th floor, The Silo Rooftop has a long, narrow swimming pool; a tempura bar; a raw bar; and a 360-degree panorama that is quite simply one of the finest from any hotel in the world. It is an occupational hazard that some hotels are a real wrench to leave. On this occasion, my distress at checkout was particularly severe.
As a complete counterpoint, this issue also includes extensive coverage of the little-known Italian region of Abruzzo, which offers a combination of Tuscany’s rolling landscapes and Umbria’s verdant scenery just two hours east of Rome. With three major national parks and one regional one, this sparsely populated area is a tract of Italy where time has largely stood still. As yet, there are no luxury hotels of an international standard. But we discovered several small properties of comfort and character, including Castello di Semivicoli in Casacanditella, an 11-room hotel housed within a 17th-century castle, which provides a splendid base from which to explore both the Apennines Mountains and the nearby Adriatic coastline. Abruzzo is deservedly famous for its food — the hearty, rustic cooking is based on the region’s superb lamb, as well as some of the best-quality bread and pasta in Italy — and throughout our trip we ate superbly well, most notably at Michelin one-star Villa Maiella, a family-owned restaurant in the hilltop town of Guardiagrele. In addition, Abruzzese wines are becoming much better known, due to a small constellation of talented producers who are making exceptional wines from the region’s most common grape varieties, including Montepulciano, Trebbiano and Pecorino. The pleasures of travel in Italy are truly inexhaustible.