The Farm Hotel

With the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek mountains as backdrop, Babylonstoren's garden is majestic. 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. Her passion for historic Cape Dutch style led to an authentic yet contemporary restoration that projects the farm into the future.

The original buildings comprise a manor house that dates back to 1777, while the Koornhuis (for storing wheat), the old cellar, ornate fowl house, dovecote, the leaning bell tower and the historic gates, all date back closer to the 1750s. A disused cow shed was transformed into the current-day Babel restaurant. When new accommodation was added to create the Farm Hotel, every care was taken to ensure that the integrity of the original architecture and its sympathetic relationship with the landscape and climate, were reflected. And so the signature look at Babylonstoren remains whitewashed walls of thick stone or primitive brick, with ornate gables and thatched roofs but with contemporary glass boxes (to house a kitchen and dining area) seamlessly added onto the Cape Dutch cottages. The result is a modern yet authentic sensibility, that takes the farm firmly into the future.

Similarly, the garden at Babylonstoren looked to the past for inspiration, taking its cue from the Company’s Garden of Cape Town, which supplied passing ships to the Cape with food in the 1600s. All of the more than 300 varieties of plants in the garden are edible or have medicinal value, with everything from blood oranges to asparagus, mushrooms and persimmons supplying the farm’s two restaurants: Babel and the Greenhouse. As such the garden’s ever-changing tapestry and rich bounty of produce, informs every aspect of Babylonstoren.

The Cottages

Each open-plan suite has a luxurious en-suite bathroom and lounge area with thick walls, elegant gables and a hearty fireplace. The interiors take on an altogether contemporary feel when paired with the modern lines of furniture by international design brands such as Kartell, Magis, Philippe Starck and the Bourellec Bros. Bookshelves are filled with a wonderful selection of books while underfloor heating and free Wi-Fi are just a few of the things that await you. A well-stocked personalized bar fridge as well as breakfast are offered daily with your stay.

The Activities

The days are intentionally unscripted at Babylonstoren, and for guests there’s much to do! In addition to exploring the 200 hectares of farm, in season you can take part in the harvesting of fruit in the orchards or the pruning of the vines. Whatever the season, the garden is an ever-changing tapestry of fruit and vegetable plantings.

A workout in the gym overlooking the garden begs to be followed by a visit to the Garden Spa for a relaxing facial or massage. The swimming pool is a restored farm reservoir and perfect for hot summer days or simply catch some rays in the sand sun bathing area surrounded by tall bamboo. The wine cellar holds daily tastings and tours and a snack at the restaurant afterwards in highly recommended.

In addition to the domestic fowls, pigeons and more than 100 snail-harvesting ducks, Babylonstoren is also home to a myriad species of birds. So arm yourself with a pair of binoculars and spend some gentle hours in the garden!

The Food at Babel

Housed in an old cow shed, Babel is a wonderful mix of Cape Dutch architecture with contemporary glass walls that makes for a simple yet edgy environment in which to try the tasty yet often unconventional combinations. Babel honors a farm-to-fork philosophy, which means a commitment to serve food that is seasonal and reflects the "pick, clean and serve" approach.

With the farm-to-fork in mind, a summer dish may comprise a yellow salad of pineapple, gooseberries, granadillas, yellow tomatoes and apricots while in winter a slow-cooked leg of lamb in red wine is more likely. Dessert subscribes to four flavors, namely salty, bitter, sweet and sour. And while the meals are creative, they strive to also not tamper unduly with the food. Babel's meals are always clear in structure, so that fruit and vegetables gathered daily from the garden is often served with its skin on. Helpings are generous and depending on the weather you can take your meal in the glass-enclosed restaurant or under the plane trees in the courtyard.



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