What not to do when planning a family vacation? Be the planner. But I couldn’t help my Virgo traits. Not planning and relinquishing control don’t come easy. So there I was, organising a 10 day holiday for 18 people across three generations. On the bright side, we all got to experience Cape Town through so many eyes, and I must say, there is something for everyone to fall in love with in South Africa’s most vibrant town.
WHERE TO GO
Nestled in the beautiful Breede Valley, an architectural masterpiece awaits. The Bosjes Chapel and farm opened to the public last year, and since then, both design lovers, and those after some rest and quiet have made the journey to the foots of the Waaihoek Mountain, if only to steal some time away from everyday life. South Africa born architect Coetzee Steyn sought inspiration for the chapel’s form from the owner’s favourite biblical passage, Psalm 36:7: “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Built on an elevated plinth and with a reflection pool in the foreground, the chapel becomes one with the clouds and the mountains behind. Architecture’s ability to elicit an emotion is evident in the calm, serene atmosphere under the sculptural concrete shell. Intimate and expansive all at once, the undulating from pays tribute to the historic Cape Dutch gables that dot the rural landscapes of the Western Cape.
A spattering of pomegranate and olive trees lead to the guesthouse. The original barn structure was redesigned to house five luxury suites around a swimming pool and a braai pit. Commissioned artworks and a wealth of local crafts compliment the earthy tones of the Liam Mooney interiors. A trip Bosjes is both restorative and introspective, but it also offers adventure off the beaten track. Guests can enjoy the bustle of harvest season on the working farm, or indulge their taste buds at any of the 27 local wineries. Bontebok, zebras and ostriches can be spotted on the hiking trails; for those in the mood for something more civilised, there is bird-watching and golf to choose from. As the sun sets and the rugged mountains turn a watercolour shade of pink, the chapel glistens against the fading light. Time does slow down at Bosjes, in the most poetic, magical way.
WHERE TO STAY
The most hotly anticipated hotel in the southern hemisphere exalts in its historic setting. Ensconced in the former elevator house of a concrete grain silo constructed in 1921 at the edge of Cape Town’s waterfront, The Silo, has transformed the cultural landscape of the city. This 28 room, family owned property that sits atop the continent’s largest collection of contemporary African art, the Zeitz MOCAA museum, shines like a beacon of new-age South Africa, with its majestic, cushion-cut windows glowing a lush amber against the setting sun.
The diamond patterned windows of The Silo Hotel offer sweeping views of Cape Town and the V&A waterfront
These iconic Thomas Heatherwick windows offer up expansive views of Table Mountain, the bustling port, and life at the Victoria & Albert Waterfront below. Inside, the building’s industrial edge is tempered by Liz Biden’s remarkable propensity for extravagance. The Granary Café and Willaston Bar that take up the entire sixth floor present a distilled take on what to expect in the bedrooms. Liz’s joyous take on design, and her love for contemporary African art is manifest in the mélange of luxurious furnishings, vibrant in hues of teal, mustard, emerald greens and purples. Original works by local artist Sibley McAdam and prints from Zeitz MOCAA’s Editions Programme present the region and life’s complexities in a compelling fashion. Double aspect ceilings are adorned with majestic chandeliers and sweeping curtains.
At night, as those windows amp up a play of refractions and the city lights reflect on the mirrored cabinets, it is hard not to spend every waking minutes observing this beautiful city from a new perspective. Sleep, though, comes easy, comforted in the knowledge that one is in the heart of South Africa’s cultural renaissance, with the most exciting new galleries, restaurants and home-grown retail experiences at your doorstep.
WHAT TO DO
Of course there is the obligatory trip to Table Mountain, lazy afternoons at Camps Bay and sundowners in the De Waterkant district, but if you want to experience Cape Town like the locals, make time for the creative arts.
Laurie Wiid Van Heerden presents at Southern Guild
The Silo District is the hottest new space for art and luxury retail. Leading the charge for contemporary South African design is the country’s foremost gallery, Southern Guild. Showcasing the latest works by designers David Krynauw, Laurie Wiid Van Heerden and Justine Mahoney amongst others, the venue also features a gift shop for the design-minded. Across the road, the Donald Greig Gallery & Bronze Foundry welcomes visitors to an artistic appreciation of the noble metal.
WHERE TO EAT
In its new avatar, The Test Kitchen reimagines dining as a sensory experience with a ‘light’ room and a dark space
A waiting list that stretches into months is not usually what one associates with a restaurant that opened eight years ago, but then, The Test Kitchen is not just any restaurant. Chef Luke Dale-Robert’s unrelenting vision for creating never-before experiences for his guests has led to some of the most exciting gastronomy experiments south of the equator. With the ability to successfully marry incongruent ingredients and an eye for the most dramatic presentations, each dish on the menu is designed to highlight the best seasonal and local produce. The secret to its enduring success lies in its name; Chef Luke founded the venue so that he could innovate and create with complete independence. He has not compromised.