Let me start off by saying that if ever you find yourself in the Cape, wondering where to stay or eat or walk or relax, you should immediately make your way to the absolutely beautiful Babylonstoren. It is The Garden of Eden. The jewel of the Winelands. It’s my favourite place to visit.
The Farm Hotel
I’ve visited Babylonstoren several times, for lunches, dinners and even a family photo shoot when we were all together in December. I’ve visited in summer and autumn and now, winter. It’s a place I could never tire of, because it’s always changing. That big Art Director In The Sky is forever adjusting the colours, the smells, the sky. In summer it’s huge and bright blue with little puffs of cartoonish clouds. In winter is close and grey with small peaks of the summer sky someone else is seeing, somewhere there is summer.
It’s as beautiful when the trees are bare and the shrubbery is lush as it is when the trees are bright green and sunshine washes over the packed earth.
I have always wanted to stay in the beautiful Plaashotel and Keenan and I were recently invited for a night in one of the dreamy cottages. During the summer months you’ll hear foreign accents floating from cottage windows on the hot wind, but during winter, it’s a playground for locals. We arrived on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The air smelled all earthy – the way winter smells in the Cape. We put down our bags in the cottage and the first thing I did was run a hot bubble bath and open a bottle of Babylonstoren wine.
As with everything on the farm, the cottages are exquisite. Light and bright. The space manages to maintain it’s authentic farm house feel, even as it is fitted with every luxury. The detail that has clearly gone into every aspect of the decor makes you feel looked after and special. Like someone personally took the time to select the fluffiest towels, the deepest bath tub (with the most comfortable back rest), the loveliest linen… and all just for you.
The cottages each have a slick, fully equipped kitchen. Babylonstoren is a working farm and in season you can walk through the orchards and pick fruit off the trees and harvest veggies as you go. I would love to spend a week on the farm in summer, getting up early to pick whatever is in season and place it gently in my basket. Later I’ll cook a feast of my harvest, along with a few things like warm bread and salty cheese from the Farm Shop. During winter, citrus is in season, so we had a big box of beautiful yellow and orange fruit waiting for us when we arrived.
Keenan lit a fire and we spent some time drawing and relaxing, something we don’t often get the time to do together. The room smelt vaguely of smoke as I spread myself across the carpet, doodling delicious monster leaves only to burn them one by one. Later we visited the Greenhouse for a light lunch to tide us over until dinner time. Mushrooms are in season at the moment and had a delicious veggie soup packed with exotic mushrooms. It was light but rich with earthiness and I want to have it over and over again.
After lunch we went for a wintry walk on the farm. Hand-in-hand past the citrus orchard, through the cactus garden, stopping to circle a blue and white mosaic. Scarves pulled up to cover our ears. Tiny raindrops barely touching our warm noses before evaporating.
You could spend the whole day just walking through the various gardens and orchards. Every time I visit I pick a new favourite part of the farm. The last time I visited, it was the cactus garden. This time we found a small little green patch that reminded me of the kind of English fields you read about. Tiny flowers poking their sunny pom-pom heads through up green grass to see whose coming.
The Farm Shop
The Farm Shop sells a selection of decor items, cook books, fresh breads, olive oils, meats, cheeses and preserves. It’s like a treasure trove of things to make your home and kitchen more delicious. I could have taken every single item home. I imagine bottles of olives and preserves lining the shelves of my tiny kitchen. Bringing the farm to Woodstock.
We had dinner reservations at Babel. Another good reason to visit in winter – since summer can have a waiting list of up to three months. It was raining buckets outside but we were warm in front of the fire in the dark, cosy library for pre-dinner drinks. Keenan taught me how to play chess. I tried to learn how to play chess. We drank gin and tonics, ice cold hands swirling the lemon slices in our glasses. We listened to the rain outside. We watched the fire burn.
At Babel we had a seasonal menu of creamy cauliflower soup and juicy steaks. Paired with a bottle of Shiraz. The knowledge that almost everything we are eating is fresh from the farm makes it taste even better.
The restaurant is famous for their red, green and yellow plates. A seasonal salad of whatever can be picked in the garden on the day. It’s a real foodie treat. Definitely make a plan to visit as soon as possible.
Breakfast is served in the Glass House. I had this outrageously beautiful tea, made with freshly picked herbs and edible flowers. I couldn’t decide which herbs to pick so I went for everything. I tasted amazing and made me feel kind of sleepy. We took one last look at the mountains before packing up and heading back to the city. A little lighter of spirit. A little heavier in kilograms. A lot happier.
Babylonstoren was my favourite place I’ve ever stayed in South Africa. The service is amazing, the food is amazing, the fact that everything is grown on the farm is amazing. It’s unbearably beautiful. It really is just a perfect place. I hope to go back a thousand times over.
Visit their website here.
Stay from Monday to Thursday and get the following included in your room rate:
2 dinners per stay (drinks excluded) OR 2 back, neck and shoulder massages per stay.
Get 15% off when you book a room in August for August by using the code: “Aug_Winter” through our booking system.
Breakfast included in both specials
Valid till 31 August 2015
**Offers cannot be combined