From the day I arrived in South Africa, I kept hearing about Babylonstoren. This destination hotel, restaurant and spa is located about an hour-and-twenty-minute drive from Cape Town, close to Franschhoek, in the middle of South Africa’s wine country. Its dramatic entrance embodies the property’s Cape Dutch farm style: whitewashed, simple structures sit amid a dramatic landscape of valleys, mountains and manicured gardens.
Babylonstoren is the creation of Karen Ross and her husband, successful businessman Koos Bekker. Karen is a known tastemaker with impeccable style, so it comes as no surprise that the property has been such a success. Originally the project was meant to be an organic garden with a photo studio built in an old stable for Karen, but the property took on a life of its own and today features a restaurant that requires reservations three months in advance.
The hotel and spa are very comfortable, and the dramatic greenhouse doubles as a tea garden or lunch terrace. Nothing in the area feels contrived; it is all ruled by nature. I loved walking around the garden and taking baths with freshly picked herbs and flowers.
The restaurant, Babel, boasts menus whose dishes change based on what the garden is currently producing. After all, Babylonstoren is just a big garden and, as chef Simone Rossouw says, good cooks think like farmers. The shareable dishes are grouped by colors, with meats placed artistically around fruits and vegetables. The property is quickly expanding and now has its own bakery, charcuterie and cheese-making facility. It also just launched it own wine label.
Babylonstoren itself is worth the trip to South Africa. Its white canvas provides a figurative and literal base for a very welcome “back to basics” mentality.
Read Indagare’s destination report on South Africa.
Read about what to expect when taking a safari in South Africa.
Read Indagare’s destination report on Cape Town.