All Eyes on Cape Town

It’s midday in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, the bustling bottom of the world. The mist has just cleared and the shipping port-cum-trendy downtown hub is alive with the sound of brass bands and the call of seagulls. Here, among sidewalk cafes and boats gleaming in sun-drenched waters, the striking new Silo Hotel has just been unveiled; in September, the much-anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa will open beneath it. This news alone is enough to generate international buzz, and with the addition of several trendy restaurants and shops, it’s safe to say that Cape Town is having–and will continue to have–a moment. Read on to discover why.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a vacation to Cape Town. 

There is a game-changing new hotel

Towering above the waterfront, the Silo Hotel catches the eye with its striking glass exterior: a series of giant, pillowed glass windows tinted blue in the reflecting sun. The structure commands attention–and certainly receives it–as the opening of the Silo Hotel has quickly become the hottest news in Cape Town this year. A project nearly 10 years in the making, the boutique hotel is part of an exciting urban development involving the restoration of the city’s historic grain silo, which was innovatively refurbished to maintain its original factory structure. The Silo is the fifth venture from visionary hotelier Liz Biden (behind the much-lauded Royal Portfolio properties), and her eye for style shines in each opulent guest room. The property is a feat of industrial-meets-Art Deco design and boasts an excellent collection of South African art, a fine-dining restaurant and a chic rooftop bar with 360-degree views. Read our First Look: The Silo.

The food scene is better than ever.

While visitors to Cape Town would be remiss to bypass the city’s classics (like Chef’s Warehouse, the casual restaurant serving mouthwatering small plates), a few new eateries are making waves in the dining scene. Chief among these is Shortmarket Club, the rustic cafe from Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of Test Kitchen. There, guests enjoy updated classics like oxtail ragu and baked aubergine along with creative desserts. Also on Capetonians’ radars is La Tête, the newest addition to Bree Street. The elegant bistro prides itself on comfort food like deep-fried fish sandwiches and lamp chops and offers freshly made Madeleine cookies for dessert. For more casual fare, visitors should head down the street to Jason Bakery, a bustling café serving outstanding pastries and sandwiches (185 Bree St). And the Silo Hotel’s fine dining restaurant has already established itself as a staple of Cape Town’s gastronomic scene. The all-day eatery offers tried-and-true favorites like excellent Sunday roast and indulgent afternoon tea; while the dinner menu features elevated seasonal fare like seafood bouillabaisse and rabbit tortellini. And those who fancy a G&T this summer are in luck: flavored gins are all the rage, and the popular Inverroche small batch distilled variety is popping up in cocktails across the city. No Reservations is a hole-in-the-wall bar beneath Chef’s Warehouse that offers many delicious, gin-based elixirs (92 Bree Street).

… as is the shopping.

Thanks to its many innovative artists and craftsman, Cape Town was named the Capital of Design in 2014, and the city shows no signs of stopping. At the V&A Waterfront, the Watershed continues to attract visitors thanks to its vast collection of wares by burgeoning local designers. The covered market is welcoming new vendors at breakneck speed, and travelers could easily spend an afternoon wandering the maze of stalls and sampling snacks at the artisanal food market next door. It doesn’t hurt that the Watershed is also a one-stop shop for every souvenir you could imagine. Don’t miss the chic tableware store Odeon, which is known for its lovely handmade ceramics, and Pichulik Jewelry, where you can buy locally made treasures inspired by traditional South African designs. And the area surrounding Bree Street–a bustling district lined with alfresco eateries and charming shops–is upping the ante with the addition of several design stores. Standouts include Chandler House, which sells gorgeous textiles in addition to creative gifts and antiques; and Pezula Interiors, which is known for its artisan furniture. Other not-to-miss classics include Merchants on Long, where you can pick up anything from perfumes to woven baskets, and Tribal Trends, which sells traditional South African pieces like antelope horns, zebra skin carpets and ceremonial headdresses.

It’s an adventurer’s–and oenophile’s–paradise.

Beyond the city’s urban attractions, Cape Town’s varied landscapes can keep adventure seekers occupied for days. Travelers are spoiled for choice here: between mountains, beaches and verdant countryside, visitors can surf, cycle, rappel, whale watch, shark dive and go wine tasting–all within the city limits. The seaside capital is also conveniently located near several regions that are destinations in their own rights, including the Cape Winelands. This bucolic valley has been known for its remarkable wines for decades; now the area is the center of a dynamic new culinary movement, with a slate of superb farm-to-table restaurants and wineries that are experimenting with innovative tasting methods. There, guests can taste some of the world’s most delicious varietals and explore the storybook villages of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl, all while enjoying the breathtaking scenery (think rose gardens, mist-engulfed mountains and lavender fields). As an added bonus, the winelands are home to a number of sumptuous retreats such as La Residence, the exquisite château with sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards. Also within driving distance of Cape Town is Hermanus, the cliffside fishing town where Birkenhead House–the lavish and romantic beach house property–can be found.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a vacation to Cape Town. 

 

– Blair West on June 1, 2017

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