Honest to goodness Cape Dutch tradition
Tatler Magazine named it one of their top hotels for 2012, calling it ‘the most delicious new opening of the year’, while the UK Condé Nast included it in their revered Hot List.
The days are intentionally unscripted at Babylonstoren, leaving guests free to do as they please. Stroll out onto the farm of 200 hectares and see fruit being picked in the orchards or vines being pruned – depending on the season. Enjoy a walk in the remarkable fruit and vegetable garden (guided if you feel like learning, or unguided for relaxation). Pick your own salad or enjoy a meal in the superb restaurant. Perhaps a massage in the spa after lunch? Or a stroll along a clivia lined stream? Then a swim in the farm dam or a bout in the gym, before sundowners at a picnic spot? Or rather sample some of the excellent wines grown on the slopes all around the Simonsberg, possibly the finest terroir for wine in Africa. You can choose. Or simply lounge and read, in summer in a hammock strung among tree trunks or in winter curled up before a fire.
The rooms are Cape Dutch style which developed in the Cape Colony of the 17th and 18th century: outer walls are whitewashed and decorated with ornate gables and thatched roofs. Interiors are pleasantly cool in summer (due to thick walls) and are heated by open hearths in winter.
The farm house consists of a main residence, old cellar, koornhuis (where wheat and hay was stored) and row of service buildings, bell tower, ornate fowl pen and dove cote surrounded by the traditional low whitewashed walls. Some of these have been converted into guest accommodation, while a disused kraal was turned into our restaurant, Babel. The food leans towards simplicity – but with an edge. Meals are creative though always clear in structure. Vegetables and fruit gathered daily from the garden are often served with their skins on. It's farm-to-fork all the way.
We love the original architecture of the Drakenstein Valley and its sympathetic blending with landscape and climate. There are eight en suite one bedroomed guest cottages and four en suite two bedroomed guest cottages which are ideal for families.
Babylonstoren lies in the Drakenstein Valley between Franschhoek and Paarl. Surrounded by the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek Mountains, it is some 60 km from the city of Cape Town and a 45 min drive from Cape Town International Airport.