On the gleaming glass surface, Radisson Hotels’ newest launch, Red – situated in Cape Town’s Silo district – ticks all the boxes of a contemporary high-end hotel. Yet inside the vibrant space, which is imbued with a youthful energy, you’ll find the brand is about more than ticking the right boxes. At its heart is a genuine motivation to understand modern travel needs and meet them in an exciting, different way.
‘As a departure point, the design team looked at the individual components of a hotel, questioning what is truly necessary and relevant,’ says Mardre Meyer. As creative director of interior architecture studio Source IBA, Meyer has overseen a number of hospitality projects, injecting into them Source IBA’s ethos of ‘orchestrating human experiences’. It’s with this philosophy that the team approached the Radisson Red, understanding how visitors would interact with the facets of the hotel, whose unique architecture is the result of a collaboration between local studios Peerutin Architects and Design Space Africa. ‘It allows us to shake up what “room modules” really mean,’ says Meyer. ‘Elements have been taken apart and put back together in a way that recognises that people travel differently now.’
Leading into the OUIBar + KTCHN, the all-day eatery serving fresh, deli-style fare, the HI ALL (in the past you’d have called it the lobby) is one of the areas that best showcases Source IBA’s modular thinking. It’s a communal blurred-lines space that makes you question why those lines existed in the first place. Comprising self-service and manned stations where guests can seamlessly check in and out, meeting zones, chill spots and areas open to interpretation, the lofty multifunctional foyer is perfect for temporary exhibitions, fashion shows and impromptu music events. ‘The inspiration behind the brand is art, music and fashion, and we use this inspiration to create a sense of place,’ says Dale Simpson, curator of Radisson Red.
Having cut his teeth at Hotel Missoni (now the G&V Royal Mile Hotel) in Edinburgh, Scotland, Simpson’s role here sees him translating Radisson Red’s ‘ageless Millennial mindset’ into memorable guest experiences. That can mean everything from the way his hospitality team are described (as ‘creatives’) to the bespoke denim kilts wrapped around their waists (designed by Howie R Nicholsby of 21stcenturykilts.com). It’s even encapsulated in the take-away coffee cups that carry limited-edition designs by emerging artists.
Many of these reinterpretations are also found inside the hotel rooms, or ‘studios’. Source IBA furnished each one with clever touches that tap into a guest’s needs, such as eschewing the tea tray for a French Press kit. The studios are noticeably more spacious than standard hotel rooms, and have expansive windows that offer superior views of the harbourside surrounds. Source IBA also connected with local designers for the interior styling, using creations from well-known names including Haldane Martin, Pedersen + Lennard, Woltemade and Vogel. But perhaps the most striking element in each studio is a bright mural by Cameron Platter, Radisson Red’s signature artist.
‘Art is in Red’s veins. It’s the lifeblood of what happens here,’ says Meyer. The proximity to Cape Town’s premier design district and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa are major drawcards. This is reflected in the red-crate installation presiding over the HI ALL, another distinctive artwork created by Platter. Platter’s work is a vein that snakes up the core of Radisson Red, from the beating heart of the entrance, through each floor.
And if art is in the blood of the hotel, technology is its nervous system – a subtle thread running through a guest’s stay, from the high-speed Wi-Fi to the app that manages check-ins, room service, bill paying and even curating your own minibar, so you can avoid human interaction should you so wish. But that really is only if you want to, says Simpson, adding that ‘technology isn’t about replacing people but enhancing an experience’.
For Simpson and Meyer, experience is at the core of the offerings here, and there’s perhaps no better place to truly take that in than on the rooftop bar where – sans technology, design and art – guests can devour panoramas of the V&A Waterfront and beyond, revelling in the Mother City’s natural splendour.
Read our dogs-eye review of the hotel here.