Babylonstoren – intriguing name…Ring a bell? Never heard of it? Read this glowing report from Africa Bespoke’s product manager and travel consultant, Michaela Cramer and find out more about this brand new low key destination hidden in the Cape Winelands.
Let me tell you about a magic garden
Words by Michaela Cramer | Photos by Deon Robbertze
Close your eyes and imagine the scent of roses, fresh herbs and fragrant soil baking in the sun…
The sounds of the wind in the trees, birds twittering, hadedas flying overhead disrupting the peace with their dominant call…a bunch of happily quacking ducks, a river…
All this sounds like an average visit to a farm anywhere, does’t it?
Well, let me tell you there is nothing average about Babylonstoren.
Just 40 minutes from Cape Town Babylonstoren lies between Franschhoek and Paarl in the Drakenstein Valley. As one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in the Cape, it only makes sense the owners have created a garden much like the old Company Gardens in the centre of Cape Town used to be.
A garden 100×300 metres (8 acres), beautifully laid-out, providing over 300 varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs as well as indigenous plants like Buchu. Plus 160 ducks kept in a clean, shaded area, make sure snails and bugs don’t devour the yummy fare.
The eastern flanks of the garden are lined by a river where thousands of clivias are blooming in spring. A walk along the riverbed on a winding well-preserved path under whispering trees will make you want to stop, sit down and just be…
The other side of the gardens is lined by accommodation units: one and two bedroom units in farmhouse style with the dining area and kitchen built on and completely covered by glass.
Imagine sitting in this glassed-in dining room at sunset overlooking the garden and on the table in front of you a delicious, colourful dinner – all ingredients from the garden right in front of you, including the baby chicken!
The cheese crème brulee with cabernet sauvignon reduction made us forget about cutlery and use our fingers…the salad was a colourful piece of art so mouth watering, it did not actually need any of the wonderful herb and garlic olive oil dressing– which of course, we drizzled over it anyway.
Then we spent time in the lounge with fireplace, admiring the book collection as well as the bookshelf itself which serves as a room divider between glass – dining room / kitchen and lounge. The special Babylonstoren music compilation truly set a romantic tone – especially since we had lit the fireplace (just because we could!) so not long and we were off to bed – a four poster bed next door inviting us with heavenly linen and way too many pillows. The en-suite bathroom could have hosted a small cocktail party, so stylish and big, not to mention the showerhead, so big it was like standing in the monsoon rain somewhere in India.
Woken up by sunlight streaming into the room through the skylight we were ready to walk down to Babel, the restaurant and breakfast room of Babylonstoren. Another inspiring space filled with rustic tables, stylish chairs, all in whites and greys, the menu written on the glossy beige tiles covering the one wall. In the centre of the restaurant are the former feeding troughs of the barn this once was. One now filled with white and pinkish rose petals floating in water, the other with fresh spring water in beautiful, simple glass bottles.
At Babel Restaurant you can order your food according to colour – so if you are in the mood for orange you will get all the orange coloured vegetables and fruit currently growing in the garden – if you prefer red , beetroot and berries are likely to be part of the array on your plate. This of course paired with local meats, poultry and fish as well as handpicked wines from the surrounding wineries.
We were soon sipping our freshly made red & orange juices (carrot / orange & beetroot / berry)and sharing a muesli tartlet with white chocolate and…yoghurt, covered by the most delish fruit in all colours. After this (thank goodness we did not both order one of those!) I had an omelette with parma ham, almonds and cream cheese with fresh herbs – the fresh, fluffy homebaked bread in a basket on the table had to be abandoned due to fullness.
After this amazing breakfast we strolled through the garden again all the way up to the top gate and out into the citrus orchard which stretches to the fence of the neighbouring farm and Babylonstoren’s own farm dam with boathouse. So, should you get tired of eating amazing food, take a walk through the awe-inspiring garden, along the river or head to the dam for a paddle and some bird-watching.
Finally, sadly, we had to tear ourselves away from this paradise in the Cape Winelands. On the way home we suddenly noticed how refreshed and inspired we both felt – after just 24 hours of being at Babylonstoren.
Accommodation: ZAR 3950.00 per room per night
* Breakfast included
* Open for lunch Wednesday To Sunday: 10h00 – 16h00