“A stunning Winelands farm: organic gardens, a remarkable restaurant and unique cottages blending history with contemporary design”
A small avenue of 18th-century thatched cottages makes up most of the guest units. As you'd expect from Karen Roos, décor is stunning and attention to detail is sky-high. There are suites, each with a double bedroom, an ensuite bathroom and a living area; 1-bedroom cottages, which also have a glass kitchen extension that lets in heaps of natural light; and 2-bedroom cottages, which come with kitchens plus an extra double/twin bedroom. All have gorgeous garden or vineyard views.
Step in through a stable-style door and you’ll be in the high-ceilinged living room, with wooden flooring and natural matting. The overall tones are wood, earth and off-white; it all feels very calm. There are plenty of mod cons - a flatscreen TV, a DVD player (borrow discs from reception), WiFi, a complimentary minibar with beers and soft drinks, and a shelf of interesting magazines and hand-picked books. Read them while lazed out on the white sofas. Other thoughtful extras include wellies, umbrellas, a torch and a map of the estate detailing walking trails.
The bedrooms are large and tranquil: we slept like babies. There’s a four-poster bed with angle-poise lamps at each side, a small window and a door to the outside, and a wardrobe.
Your white-tiled bathroom has a full mirror on one side, a rolltop bath in the middle, and a separate shower at the other end. Rather than bath salts, you're presented with a posy of flowers and herbs (locally, a 'Tassie Massie') to put under your running tap to infuse your soak with all sorts of delicious smells - a lovely touch.
In the 7 cottages with a kitchen, you step down onto a concrete floor and are surrounded on 3 sides by floor-to-ceiling glass, which makes it all seem very airy. There’s an industrial-style sink, Nespresso coffee machine, fridge-freezer and oven in one corner, plus a long wooden table and benches.
Since our visit a 1920s farmhouse has been converted to hold 9 welcoming Farmer’s House Suites (6 doubles, 3 twins) as well as it's own indoor-outdoor swimming pool with sauna and steam room. We're yet to personally view this building in it's new guise
For larger groups, Karen's 5-bedroom Cape Dutch homestead is available to rent on an exclusive-use basis; please enquire for details.
In a word: phenomenal. Organic ingredients - wherever possible from the farm, garden and local wineries - are used to stunning effect. The airy restaurant Babel, with its daily menu written on a tiled wall, serves super fresh food with a twist. Salads are simply laid out as 'green' (with cucumber and courgette), 'red' (with beetroot, radish and guava) or 'yellow' (with butternut squash, corn and passion fruit). Mains veer towards the meaty - rib eye steak or grilled lamb cutlets - but veggies can’t complain when the likes of steamed cauliflower with fresh herb spread, melting gorgonzola, guava, roasted macadamia nuts and deep-fried sage also feature. And save room for pudding: we loved our dark chocolate terrine with olives and toasted walnuts served with a warm burnt-caramel sauce.
Breakfast was even more of a highlight. We kickstarted the day with delicious juices: green pepper, basil and pear and ginger, papaya and orange, accompanied by a stunning tart made with granola, Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit. Feeling peckish during the day? Stroll down to the Greenhouse for ciabatta sandwiches and homemade ice lollies: plum and black pepper or watermelon and mint.
If you're staying in one of the cottages, a wooden box of fruit and veggies from the farm will await you. Your industrial-style kitchen is packed with all the equipment you'd need (the eye for detail continues), and you can wander into the garden and help yourself to whatever takes your fancy - there are 300+ types of edible plants. Basics are also provided (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper) and you can buy fab cheeses, charcuterie, freshly baked bread and wine from the onsite farm shop. Paarl, 10 minutes away by car, has grocery stores, plus restaurants should you want a change of scene.
Note: Babel is open every day for breakfast (guests only), and for lunch Wednesday-Sunday (guests and the general public). Dinner is served in Babel on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday and Friday informal Italian-inspired set menu family-style suppers (guests only) are served in the Bakery (including pizzas from the wood-fired oven). Babel is very popular so book ahead to avoid disappointment. The Greenhouse tea room is open daily 10h00-16h00 (no reservations required).
Families are most welcome at Babylonstoren. Although there are no specific activities for children, there's plenty around the property to keep them occupied. Several families were staying during our half-term visit in February. Babies stay for free.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
A baby cot can be added to all rooms. There are no rollaway beds so families with older children should stay in a 2-bedroom cottage.
There's no kids menu but the set 3-course dinner served in Babel from 18:30 Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday is half-price for children. On Monday and Wednesday evenings gourmet pizzas are served in their Bakery. Our daughter loved the homeade cupcakes and popsicles served in The Green House (open daily from 10:00 to 16:00). The guest cottages (but not the suites) have their own kitchen if you prefer to self-cater or whip up a snack for little ones.
Kids will enjoy cycling on the farm paths, helping to pick fruit and vegetables in the garden (or playing hide and seek in it), rowing (supervised) on the dam, scrambling up the koppie (hill), feeding carrots to the donkeys, and collecting eggs from the chickens.