For all fans of farm-to-table dining, organically grown edible plants and five-star luxury comfort, this is the ultimate place to be. I fell in love with Babylonstoren on first sight and have been back many times over the past five years.
The farm made a comeback as organic working farm and hotel only a few years ago. The historic buildings with beautiful thatched roofs and ornate gables were carefully restored and today offer guest accommodation, two restaurants, a Spa, a lovely little farm shop, a bakery, a butcher and a tasting room for the farm’s own wines.
Once stepping into the farms courtyard, it feels like you are stepping back in time. This is like it must have been living a self-contained existence back when the farm was originally founded around 1690. Not that it would have been an easy life.
After entering the main gate, you will most likely be greeted by a pair of donkeys and a bunch of turkeys and colourful chicken.
Once entering the large garden, it’s easy to get lost wandering the many differnt paths through the farmed sections and the many places inviting visitors to sit down and take in the beautiful views.
Day-visitors have to pay a small entrance fee which is totally worth it as it is going into a project that provides education to local children. In addition, you are welcome to pick and sample as many fruits and vegetables are grown in the garden as you like. And there is plenty to sample. The eight-and-a-half acre garden boasts more than 350 edible plants – fruits, vegetables and herbs. All are also served in the farm’s two restaurants.
In addition, there are also lots of beautiful flowers around the premises.
As it happened for over 300 years, the garden is naturally irrigated from a stream and connecting waterways.
The hotel rooms are tucked away behind a secluded area to give guests the uttermost privacy. They look amazing on the farm’s website and are high up on my list of Cape Winelands hotels to visit. However, guest accommodation is limited and the hotel was unfortunately fully booked when I was planning my last trip (eight months in advance). But I am fully determined to score better on my next Winelands visit.
Babel restaurant, which is located in a former cow shed, offers a fresh daily menu based on the seasonable produce available on the farm. If you plan to go, you should make sure you have a reservation as places are limited and in high demand. Reservations can be made two months in advance, e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A second restaurant – aptly named the Greenhouse – offers lighter meals and refreshments. Here, you can create your own sandwich and preferred taste of teas from an offering of herbs freshly picked from the garden. No reservation is needed but depending on the time of the year, the place might be busy and you might have to queue for a place.
The latest addition to the premises was the farms very own winery and tasting room. Although grapes were grown on the farm already for a long time, the first Babylonstoren wines were bottled as recently as 2011. Yet they have already gained recognition in the area and are served in a number of hotels and restaurants around Cape Town and the Western Cape Winelands.
Babylonstoren is located in Simondium in the Drakenstein Valley between Franschhoeak and Paarl along Klapmuts Simondium Raod, about 45 minutes drive time (about 60 km) from Cape Town.