Cape Town hotel tipped to become a popular party spot for locals
New lifestyle hotel, Radisson RED, offers so much more than a bed for the night, writes Dave Chambers
If you'd told the people who built Cape Town harbour's grain silos 96 years ago that in less than a century they'd be one of the new trendiest destinations in Africa, they'd have shipped you off to a sanatorium.
But with the opening in 10 days of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, housed in those very same silos, that is what is about to happen.
No less an authority than The Times (the other one, in London) declared at the weekend: "It was already the best holiday city in South Africa, but now there's a whole new reason to visit Cape Town. And with beach, wildlife, hip hotels and a food scene that's as exciting as the art, you've got all the ingredients for a fabulous winter-sun escape."
One of those "hip hotels" is attached to the Zeitz Mocaa and it really is breathtaking - as it should be with a room rate of R15,000 a night (ranging up to R90,000 for a penthouse).
But another opened next door on Tuesday, and its prices start at a less gast-flabbering R2,343.
The Radisson RED isn't just for tourists. Its roof, complete with kitchen, swimming pool and spectacular views, is open to the public and should become a popular party spot as the summer holiday crowds and staff from surrounding office blocks sniff it out. It's also the venue for 6am yoga and Pilates classes.
The rollerskating staff at Tuesday's opening are a good example of the fun that's been built into the Radisson RED.
A couple of BMW motorcycles in the foyer will apparently be used to whisk guests around town, male staff will often be seen in custom-designed kilts and a refreshing and infectious informality is encouraged in the staff, who prefer to be known as "creatives".
Given its location at the new epicentre of African art, the design of the hotel is just as much fun as everything else about the place. Local artist Cameron Platter has work throughout the public areas and the 252 studios and everywhere you look there is wit and whimsy.
The roof, for example, is lined with red plastic crates planted with succulents, and a four-ton truck (red, naturally) is parked up there to dispense local brews. Manager Dale Simpson prefers to be known as the "curator", and there are even pet-friendly rooms.
The studios are compact but equipped for just as much fun as the rest of the hotel, especially if you like red grout between the bathroom tiles.
Our sleep on Monday night was bedevilled by security floodlights blazing down on the ship repair yard opposite, and just when we wearily concluded design had triumphed over common sense, we discovered the electrically operated blockout blind, which plunged our studio into perfect darkness.
There are family studios at the Radisson RED, but it seems likely to be a hotel for the young and young at heart. And a welcome addition to the pricey and often pretentious Cape Town accommodation market.
• Chambers was a guest of Radisson RED
• This article was originally published in The Times.