Dating back to 1692, this 200-hectare farm, lies in the Drakenstein Valley in the heart of the Cape Winelands, almost halfway between Franschhoek and Paarl. Here, owner Karen Roos has masterfully created the ultimate farm haven, where the luxury is in the integrity and authenticity of the setting.
Excellent wine aside, Babylonstoren is also home to a stylish hotel, a 3.5-hectare garden that supplies three restaurants and a juicery, a serene spa, modern wine-tasting centre, boathouse with row boat, endless dirt roads (which hotel guests can explore on available mountain bikes) and a pervasive sense of tranquility that follows you everywhere.
Here are 10 reasons it should feature on every visitor to the Cape’s hitlist. (If we’ve left out a reason, please add it in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you.)
1. The Garden at Babylonstoren
The 3.5-hectare garden, modelled on the famous Company’s Garden in Cape Town, is probably the farm’s main attraction, providing the central backdrop to everything that happens on the farm. The Garden of Diversity pays tribute to the gardening traditions of the Cape; for centuries the halfway station between Europe and Asia, where ships would replenish with water, vegetables and fruit. There are over three kilometres of paths through the garden, which provide hours of walking pleasure, or join the daily guided garden tour led by one of the gardeners.
Good to know Regrettably no dogs are allowed (except for guide dogs), and be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 4pm
Cost R20 (adults, weekends and public holidays)
R10 (adults weekdays, children 0 – 12 years)
Free (RHS members)
Housed in the homestead’s original cowshed, Babel is a laidback yet sophisticated restaurant, dressed in a delicious blend of Cape Dutch architecture and contemporary decor. During winter expect comforting dishes, such as slow-cooked leg of lamb in red wine jus, while in summer, be bowled over by a vibrant colour-coded salad made with produce from the garden. Naturally, there’s a superb list of wines to accompany your meal.
Opening times Breakfast: Daily, 8am – 9.30am
Lunch: Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 3.30pm
Dinner: Daily, 7pm – late
3. Wine-Tasting at Babylonstoren
Next to the vintage wine cellar is a warm yet modern tasting centre, with floor-to-ceiling glass panes that maximise the breathtaking views of Babylonstoren Hill, Simonsberg and the Banghoek Mountains. Sit back, relax and enjoy this stylish space with a glass of excellent Babylonstoren wine. And, maybe a platter to share – our favourite is the Cellar Master’s Platter: bresaola, salami, Leyden cheese, Babylonstoren fior di latte, Caprese salad, olives and homemade preserves. Daily cellar tours take place every hour, from 11am to 3pm.
Opening times 1 May – 31 August: Daily, 10am – 5pm
1 September – 30 April: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Cost R60 per person (tasting of six wines)
R75 per person (cellar tour, including tasting of six wines)
4. The Garden Spa at Babylonstoren
Set within a forest of bamboo, greenery and flowing water channels, the Garden Spa offers a world-class oasis of peace and relaxation. Complete with an outdoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room, indoor heated vitality pool, tropical rain showers, a salt room (built with blocks of Himalayan salt) and a gym, the spa promises to meet your every need, and more. Enquire about the variety of treatments, including the hammam: an ancient cleansing ritual aimed at relieving stress; massage; wraps; facials and reflexology. The spa is open to hotel guests as well as day visitors.
Opening times Daily, 12pm – 4pm (day visitors); 8am – 7pm (hotel guests)
Contact 021 300 3929, email@example.com
5. The Spice Garden at Babylonstoren
Situated within a domed conservatory, this exotic space contains an array of aromatic spices associated with the spice trade, such as turmeric, ginger and nutmeg cloves. Tropical Asian fish swim about in two glass aquariums (and beneath the deck) – an homage to the continent from which these spices originated.
The Spice Garden is available to host private functions for between 13 and 24 guests. There are different menus for winter and summer, but each will feature spiced tea or coffee, freshly baked bread, handcrafted butter and Babylonstoren olives, salad, soup, various herbs and vegetables from the garden, and a delicious dessert.
Opening times Daily, 12pm – 4pm (booking is essential)
Cost R290 per person
Contact 021 863 3852, firstname.lastname@example.org
6. The Bakery at Babylonstoren
On Monday and Friday evenings, The Bakery hosts Buonissimo Italian evenings. The three-course set menu starts with an antipasti or salad offering, followed by a woodfired pizza or a homemade pasta for mains, with a delicious dolce and coffee for dessert.
Opening times Mondays & Fridays, 7pm
Cost R340 (adults)
On Wednesday evenings, The Bakery turns into a meat-lover’s paradise, with Carnivore Evening. The meat comes from grass-fed Chianina cows (an age-old Italian breed of cattle). Chefs Jaco Koegelenberg and Eddie Plaatjies braai the meat to perfection while you sit back and enjoy the strains of live accordion and a glass of wine.
Time Wednesday, 6.30pm
Cost R490 (adults, includes two glasses of wine)
7. The Healing Garden and Tea Ceremony at Babylonstoren
Created for quiet reflection, this restful space in the garden has a central layout that intuitively follows the form of the human body, with herbs to heal various parts of the anatomy. During the Tuesday tea ceremonies, you’ll learn how to brew your own herbal tea, while learning about the healing properties of the plants around us.
Good to know Children under 10 years are not permitted in the Healing Garden.
Opening times Tuesday, 9.30am
Cost R335 (50% deposit is required to secure your booking.)
8. Greenhouse Restaurant at Babylonstoren
At the far end of the garden is a greenhouse conservatory that was custom-built in France for Babylonstoren. Here, no-fuss food is the order of the day. Expect home-baked treats, fresh garden juices, artisanal breads with handcrafted cheeses and cold meats, as well as fresh garden salads and, of course, teas and coffees.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
9. The Juicery at Babylonstoren
Staying true to Babylonstoren’s farm-to-fork mission of utilising fresh, local produce, their cold-pressed juices are made from fruit and vegetables sourced directly from the garden and surrounding farmland. In their state-of-the-art juicery, the produce is cold-pressed, mixed together, and then preserved using High Pressure Processing (HPP), which keeps the product fresh without using any heat, thereby preserving the flavour and nutritional value.
A viewing deck in Babylonstoren’s factory allows guests to see the meticulous processes taking place here. You can also take part in one of Babylonstoren’s Juice Jamming workshops, where guests pick fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, create their own juice in The Juicery, and end off with lunch at The Greenhouse.
Opening times Daily, 9am – 5pm (The Juicery)
10am – 3pm on scheduled dates (Juice Jamming workshop)
Please note No further juice jamming workshops are scheduled for 2019, but they will return in 2020, so watch this space.
Contact 021 863 3852, email@example.com
10. Luxurious farm accommodation at Babylonstoren
For those who wish to immerse themselves in this garden paradise overnight, the hotel at Babylonstoren offers a delicious taste of idyllic country life: from Provençal-inspired gardens bearing fruit that made the Cape of Good Hope a vital pitstop, to luxurious suites that are replicas of the old farm workers’ cottages, to food fit for the gods.
This heavenly mixture of laidback farm-style delights and world-class creature comforts comes courtesy of owner Karen Roos, who has drawn on her extensive travels abroad, and masterfully merged those with the very best local flavours. Karen’s inimitable sense of style (nonchalantly teaming a Kartell side table with a deep, old-fashioned bathtub) and her scrupulous attention to detail puts some of the city’s most lavish hotels to shame.
Cost From R6 600 (depending on season)
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