Our little hire car trundled up the red earth driveway of Babylonstoren and we turned into the carpark. That’s when we saw it – the most arresting mountain backdrop, made only more beautiful by the stunning sunshine and deep blue summer skies we were blessed with that day.
I’m pretty sure I let out a shriek. I was very excited about staying at this luxury farm hotel, our first stop in the Cape Winelands.
Babylonstoren: The Setting
Babylonstoren is a farmstead hotel located in the heart of the Cape Winelands in South Africa and if you’ve been to the Western Cape before, you’ll know that the setting here is staggering.
This boutique hotel boasts the traditional Cape Dutch architecture the wine region is known for. And it’s called Babylonstoren because of the conical shaped hill that Dutch farmers named Babilonische Tooren after the biblical Tower of Babel.
Those mountains that had me awestruck on arrival are the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek Mountains. And the farm is one of the oldest in the region, dating back to the 1700s when Dutch colonials farmed the land.
These days it’s under the ownership of former magazine editor Karen Roos.
The grounds at Babylonstoren cover an impressive 200 hectares and the first thing you need to do when you arrive at your room is study the map, because there’s a lot going!
I’m going to write a separate piece on the gardens because they’re honestly, extraordinary. But you’ll find that this 3.5 hectare space of orchards, medicinal plants, sculptures and grapevines is worth dedicating a few hours to, to explore.
The farm produces hundreds upon hundreds of plant species including seven types of olive oil which you can purchase in the gorgeous farm shop.
But the main reason we were here of course, was for the food and wine. The Babylonstoren vineyards has 72 hectares of grapes under vine and produces 13 different grape varieties. We had some tasting to do.
But first, time to check in…
The check-in procedure at Babylonstoren is refreshingly laid-back but from arrival to departure, everything was pretty flawless. Moments after we pulled up in the car (and I’d picked my jaw up off the floor after clocking the beautiful backdrop) a very lovely member of staff pulled up in a golf buggy to greet us.
He then whizzed us over to our guest room, while offering a very interesting introduction to the farm.
No check in desk, no forms, no formalities, no worries. Just a quick rundown of the essential info we had in our room, the location for reception (if we needed it) and most importantly, where we needed to go for our imminent wine tasting.
I loved this place already.
There are various different farmhouse suites and cottages at Babylonstoren which sleep up to a maximum of four people, plus The Owner’s House which is available on request and sleeps 10.
We stayed in a one-bedroom suite and I could write an essay on why I loved it so much. (Don’t worry I won’t.)
But what I will tell you is they are so chic, I dare anyone not to love it here.
Think white-washed walls with gables and high ceilings from the original farm buildings.
Think minimal, fuss-free furniture (all in white). And expect all the modern necessities such as complimentary mini-bar (including their tip top wine), a Nespresso machine and kettle and a lovely array of snacks.
What’s also lovely, is there are plenty of nods to nature and countryside living in the room, including botanical prints, a box of freshly-picked fruit, a gorgeous fireplace and wellies at the door.
There’s also a TV and sofa, and through the glass doors, there’s an outside space complete with chairs and hammock.
The bathroom also had serious wow-factor with is roll-top bath, Victorian-inspired taps, separate walk-in shower and endless supply of L’Occitane toiletries.
Guests are encouraged to fill the tub and drop the ‘tussie-mussie’ (a bouquet of herbs picked fresh that day) into the water.
It smells divine.
Dining at Babylonstoren
The food at Bablyonstoren is so unique, I will follow up with a separate post to tell you all about it, along with the all-important wine tasting and cellar tours.
But for a quick low-down, evening meals and breakfast are served at their onsite restaurant, Babel – a stone’s throw from the guest suites. It has a bright and contemporary feel and embraces a fantastic farm-to-table philosophy, so all fruit and vegetables are grown on site.
During the daytime, guests and daytime visitors can enjoy picnic-style eats at The Greenhouse. You’re surrounded by nature and it’s beautiful.
Wine tasting takes place in the chic wine tasting room, above their vast cellars. More on this very soon…
Things to do at Babylonstoren
If you want to engage in activities aside from eating and drinking (you won’t be judged if you don’t), there are plenty of activities to enjoy here. This includes cycling, canoeing on the dam, six different walking trails and an 8am hike up to the top of the conical shaped hill.
They also have the Garden Spa and pool (which I didn’t see) and various hands-on workshops. If you put in an early request, you can also help out with egg collecting, donkey feeding and other farm activities.
Alas, we were only at the hotel for less than 24 hours. So despite squeezing in a garden tour the next morning, our stay was far too short to explore Babylonstoren in full.
Would I come back?
In a word, yes! Babylonstoren is chic without trying too hard and so refreshingly laid back. Whether you’re here with a group of friends, for a romantic weekend, or you’re taking a relaxing holiday to unwind in nature with the kids, this hotel ticked every single box and more.
Babylonstoren, R45 Simondium, 7670 South Africa