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South African Country Life with Loads of Heart and Char in the Cape Winelands
You should definitely not drive pass Babylonstoren when you are traveling through the Cape Winelands! Whether for an overnight stay, for a meal or even just a day visit – Babylonstroren is fascinating and beautiful! We fell in love with Babylonstoren’s majestic organic gardens, their wines, their olive oil and their extraordinary food! You can stay overnight at this incredible estate, and there is so much to discover that you will definitely not feel like leaving. There are also the incredible massages and free-roaming animals, like the turkey, whose favorite pastime is watching restaurant guests through the glass walls all day long and then, the chickens, geese, and ducks, that roam around the estate carefree and happy. A historic yet contemporary farm, with a fervor for healthy, organic food and tasteful design, but always with nature as its central focus.
Babylonstoren, named after the mythological hanging gardens of Babylon, is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in the area. It is a 200-hectare fruit farm with vineyards dating back to 1692 and the manor house to 1777.
Thanks to the vision of Karen Roos, the chief editor of the South African edition of Elle Decoration and her husband Koos Bekker, the estate has during the past ten years been transformed into a luxurious farm hotel. It has the most fabulous garden spa, first-class restaurants, Babel and Greenhouse, and since 2011 also an incredible winery. Well worth mentioning is the excellent Farm store and Bakery. Even if you are just passing by, you should definitely add a visit to the marvelous farm store and a wine tasting to your itinerary!
The luxury farm is located not far from Cape Town in the heart of the Cape Winelands between Franschhoek and Paarl with fantastic views of the Drakenstein mountains.
The heart of Babylonstoren is the 3.5-hectare vegetable, berry, flower, and fruit garden. It was laid out with the help of the famous French architect, Patrice Taravella, who also designed the gardens of Prieuré Notre Dame d’Orsan in France. The garden is subdivided into 15 sections and is home to many bee colonies for pollination, and the traditional water channels are still used for irrigation today.
“This garden is like a big pantry alive with burgeoning plants and conveys an all–new impression on fruits and vegetables.” – Simoné Rossouw, F & B manager
More than 300 plant species grow in the vast garden – all of which are edible or of medicinal value. The garden supplies the two restaurants, Babel and Greenhouse, with its farm-to-fork philosophy, with fresh and sustainably grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, nuts, seeds and much more.
There are bicycles available free of charge for visitors to explore the gardens and farm.
You encounter animals all over the estate and around every nook and corner, you will find someone busy planting or harvesting something.
Plums, lemons, olives, and wine are grown on the farm.
Suites & Cottages
The One Bedroom Suites all have a spacious living area, a bathroom with separate shower and bath, underfloor heating, a minibar and a hearty fireplace. All the suites have a private outdoor area with views onto the green surroundings. The One Bedroom Cottages also have a furnished kitchen and the Two Bedroom Cottages, an additional bedroom. The new Farmhouse suites have access to the swimming pool, sauna, salt room and the library. The Manor House has five bedrooms that provide accommodation for ten guests.
The thick, whitewashed walls, ornate gables, thatched roofs and rustic fireplaces combined with the modern decor of internationally renowned designers such as Kartell, Magis, Philippe Starck and Bourellec Bros, successfully blend the old with the new, creating a rustic, authentic and contemporary design. Local flowers in the bathroom, fresh fruit, and bookshelves filled with high-quality South African literature creates an exceptional ambiance with a lot of attention to detail.
We stayed in a beautiful One Bedroom Cottage with a modern four-poster bed, large bathroom, library and magnificent glass cube kitchen with dining area.
“Heritage combined with innovation.”
The modern, fully equipped kitchen with glass walls enables a fantastic DIY farm-to-table cooking experience. You can harvest your own organic vegetables and fruits and then prepare them in the fabulous kitchen.
In the afternoon, you are spoiled with a complimentary gift from the kitchen accompanied by a bottle of wine.
The fine-dining restaurant, Babel, is housed in a converted cow shed and is inspired by Maranda Engelbrecht, food stylist and founder of Babel restaurant. It offers exceptional, colorful and fresh seasonal cuisine in the morning, at noon and in the evening.
Every morning you can accompany the kitchen staff when they harvest the ingredients for the day’s dishes in the garden. Meals are served indoors or in the courtyard under umbrellas or in the shade of the enormous trees.
Breakfast is a real feast for the eyes: freshly baked bread, homemade muesli, freshly pressed juices, fruits and vegetables, egg dishes, French toast, yummy coffee and much more. Simultaneously, a treat for the eyes and a culinary delight.
Roasted baby tomatoes with strawberries
– 250g Mediterranean vine tomatoes
– 250g strawberries
– 1 cup of sugar
Preheat oven to 140 °C. Place tomatoes and strawberries side by side on a baking tray or in a ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar and put in the oven for 1-2 hours. Allow to cool slightly and serve as a delicious jam with warm, fresh bread or scones.
Rose Gin Tonic, fruit on a stick, salad with a difference, the best steak, Parmesan risotto and sweet, salty, bitter or sour dessert – exquisite cuisine, excellently presented and a taste sensation.
To enhance this perfect taste experience, suitable wines are recommended.
Risotto with Babylonstoren Carnaroli rice with slow-roasted pumpkin, roasted pine nuts, and baked sage butter.
At the end of the garden, you will find the beautiful and 26 m long Greenhouse. It was custom built for Babylonstoren in France. It serves homemade delicacies, coffee, tea, freshly squeezed juices, fresh bread with handmade cheese, meat and sausage specialties, accompanied by homemade herb oils, chutneys, jams, seasoning sauces and an assortment of fresh salad leaves at lunchtime in the Greenhouse and the adjacent area outside.
Tip: Dinner in the Bakery
On Wednesday and Friday evenings an Italian inspired 3-course menu is served family style in the Bakery. (About 23 EUR per person)
Tea ritual in the healing garden with lunch
Babylonstoren’s medicinal garden is a healing garden and a place of rest. On a fascinating tour through the garden, with the passionate gardeners Gundula or Constance, you get to know old and new herbs that have been tried and tested over centuries by different cultures around the world. Some are aromatic, some bitter and some even dangerous.
“Tranquil cleansing experience.”
Constance selected various herbs for us that we then blended into a delicious herbal tea in the shaded bamboo structure.
With the tea, you can enjoy a delicious lunch with, for example, Tomato soup, Matcha tea sandwiches, fresh fruit, cream cheese fish rolls and coconut confectionery.
The Garden Spa is set within a bamboo forest. Herbs for the daily rituals are gathered every morning.
Moisturizing body wraps, bespoke facials, luxury pedicures, and, of course, massages, such as the bamboo massage in the bamboo pavilion are just some of the treatments on offer. (Spa Menu)
Our duo massage was perfect. The Swedish massage was not only immensely relaxing, but also dissolved all our muscular tensions. Highly recommended! Chanel and Tania were great!
Directly in the vicinity of the spa, there is a refreshing pool and another pool with sauna, salt room, vitality pool, hammam, and gym.
Wine cellar tour with wine tasting
Good wine is synonymous with South Africa. The young Babylonstoren winery has been producing eight superb white and red wines from 13 grape varieties since 2011.
During the wine cellar tour, you can take a walk through the vineyards and visit the olive oil factory. Since 2013, the farm also produces the best cold-pressed olive oil from its 5 800 olive trees.
You can sample the excellent wines and olive oil in the Tasting Room – with views of the conical, Babylonstoren Hill, Simonsberg, and Banghoek mountains.
The combination of excellent wines with delicious snack platters consisting of sausages, cheese, pate’s, fresh fruits and vegetables, all from the garden, is a match made in heaven.
In the Farm store, you can find great wines, olive oil, jams, freshly baked bread, honey, cheese, sausage, tea and all sorts of kitchen utensils to name but a few. The Scented shop next door stocks scented candles and other gifts.
In the original, beautifully restored Cape Dutch farm buildings and surroundings, you can also get married and celebrate with up to 100 guests. The wedding ceremony can take place outdoors, for example, under the majestic oaks by the creek or in the mysterious House of Shadows at the end of the garden.
Wedding packages start at 4,600 EUR and include 2 night’s accommodation, a wedding coordinator, decoration, flowers and sound system. (Further information >)
We were absolutely fascinated by this great farm, the fantastic garden, the romantic cottages, the excellent spa and the ingenious food in the restaurants. Naturally, there are a lot of day visitors, but that is understandable and great. Do not let the opportunity to visit this truly unique wine estate pass you by! It is perfect for a romantic time out in the beautiful cottages, a relaxing massage in the spa, divine lunches, exquisite dinners, interesting wine cellar tours with wine-tasting or even just for a visit to the fantastic Farm store! We would be all too happy to have such store at home in Germany!
Rooms: 32 Suites & Cottages
Transfer: About 40 minutes by car (61 km) from Cape Town International Airport, about 15 km from Paarl and approximately 23km from Franschhoek.
Check-in / check-out: 14:00 and 11:00 respectively. Great importance is placed on guests respecting the exact times.
Parking: Secure on the estate
Air Temperature: 6 – 30 degrees Celsius
Best Travel Time: Year-round. Best travel time is from September to the beginning of May. High season is from November to February. Between May and September, you might experience a few rainy days.
Flight duration: Nonstop from Frankfurt to Cape Town in about 11 hours and 45 minutes with Condor or 14 hours and 35 minutes with South African Airways (with a stopover in JNB)
Time difference: None
Entry Fee for Day visitors: R20 per person on weekends and public holidays and R10 during the week (all fees go to the Babylonstoren Trust for the education of local children)
Price: From 480 EUR per night. Included in the price: Breakfast, access to the garden with a guided garden tour, farm walk, cycling on the farm, canoeing on the farm reservoir, fly fishing, afternoon drive (when staying two nights or more), morning harvest with the gardener, bread baking session, cellar tour and wine tasting. A laundry service (limited to 6 pieces of laundry per day) and a well-stocked pantry according to your preferences are also included.
Special offers: Stay for four days, pay for three valid from 1st May to 31st August.
Unique features: Beautiful cottages, fantastic massages, ingenious and exceptional food, unique garden, many free roaming animals.
Perfect for: Couples, families, gourmets, honeymooners, nature and garden lovers, weddings
Opening Hours & Events
Babel Restaurant: Breakfast daily: 8:00 – 9:30; Lunch: Wed-Sun 12:00 – 15:30 and Dinner daily: from 19:00
The Greenhouse: 10:00 – 16:00
Garden: 8:30am – 17:00
Garden tours: 10:00
Tea ritual in the Healing Garden: Tuesdays at 9:30
Editor’s Pick: Goldliste 2018
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Please Note: Babylonstoren kindly sponsored our stay at the estate. Thank you! The opinions expressed in this article are as always 100% our own!