In Cape Town there is one wine farm everyone talks and knows about, funny enough it is not so much because of their wines, but more of the whole farm itself. Babylonstoren is O.U.T of this world gorgeous. I stayed at the farm for one night and pretty much tried everything Babylonstoren has to offer; spa, wine tastings, lunching in the greenhouse, dinner and breakfast at Babel and long walks on the massive piece of land, which includes the most beautiful garden.
Dating back to 1692, the fortunes of this historic fruit and wine farm took a turn ten years ago when it fell under the gaze of former magazine editor Karen Roos. Everything on the farm is not placed or grows out of place and that where you know that it’s someone with a high sense of aesthetics running the premises.
The signature look at Babylonstoren is whitewashed walls of thick stone or primitive brick, with ornate gables and thatched roofs and throughout the Farm Hotel contemporary glass boxes (to house a kitchen and dining area) has been seamlessly added onto the Cape Dutch cottages. The result is a modern yet authentic sensibility.
You pretty much walk straight out of your cottage into the calming spa area. It is set within a forest of bamboo with tranquil greenery and a myriad leiwater channels to set the tone. I went for a private Hammam water ritual that takes place in a beautiful, purpose-built marble Hammam followed by a mani and pedicure. Treatments it not cheap, considered to the price level you find throughout Cape Town, but when in Rome right?
If you do not have time to stay for a night or two, I really recommend that you visit the farm anyway. Go to the Greenhouse, at the rear of the garden, which is a sight for sore eyes. There’s no better place to sit than here under the oak trees and enjoy an informal, picnic-style breads with handcrafted cheeses and dressed meats served with homemade herb oils, chutneys, preserves and relishes. After lunching you should take your time for both a proper wine tasting in the newly built and very well designed wine cellar and a garden tour, which is the highlight of the farm really.
The Garden comprises 15 clusters spanning vegetable areas, stone and pome fruits, nuts, citrus, berries, bees, herbs, ducks, chickens as well as a prickly pear maze. Gravity feeds water from a stream by rills into the garden, flowing through ponds planted with edible lotus, nymphaea lilies and waterblommetjies. Every one of the 300 varieties of plants in the garden is edible, which you will taste if you are lucky to get a table at the farm’s restaurant Babel.
Most seats at the Babel is reserved for guests at the Farm Hotel, but if you call for reservation on the day, you might be lucky. Or just book a cottage of course. Housed in an old cowshed, Babel is a wonderful mix of Cape Dutch architecture with contemporary glass walls that makes for a simple yet edgy environment. The service is impeccable, as is the food. I have to say, that my favourite meal was the breakfast – consider this for a minute, yogurt dressed with freshly grown berries, nuts and citrus picked hours before serving.
Babylonstoren comes highly recommended; I really cannot find a single thing that doesn’t work for this place. Everything is so thought out, which for me, is a good thing. You cannot visit Cape Town without taking the 45-minute drive to Stellenbosch for a visit at this beautiful wine farm.
— I was invited to Babylonstoren, which means they covered all expenses in relation to the trip —
Photos © Allan Torp, Bungalow5