Franschoek is a very pretty Cape Dutch Town, all white washed cottages, a lovely 19th Century church and plenty of cafes and restaurants populating the high street. But it is beyond the town where Franschoek’s beauty truly lies. In the towering mountains, the roads winding through vineyard after vineyard, the picturesque Cape Dutch farm houses surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Babylonstoren is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farm in the area (it’s in between Franschoek and Paarl), and it is out of this world stunning. It not only boasts a vineyard, but it is an actual (200 hectare) working farm, with the most lovely gardens. And with the mountains in the backdrop it is breathtaking.
Anyone can come and visit Babylonstoren, for a 10 rand (£0.50) fee at the entrance. I can see the appeal, especially for families. There are donkeys, chickens, a wonderful Glasshouse for a casual picnic style lunch (we had the freshest smoked trout on sourdough), and of course, the gardens to walk through.
You can also stay on the property, which I highly recommend. At the moment it offers 21 suites and cottages (some of them with multiple bedrooms), but they are adding a few more. While from the outside these suites and cottages look like simple white washed farm houses, from the inside they are a sight to behold. It’s like walking into a Scandinavian suite; large open plan bedrooms with four poster beds, large windows, wooden floors, fireplaces, high ceilings and a huge white bathroom (the baths are heavenly). The family units also offer a fully functioning kitchen, ideal for those with younger kids or if you want to be more self-sufficient.
Their fine dining restaurant, Babel, was under construction when I went, but is usually booked months in advance. You can expect plenty of fresh, home grown produce and a seriously high standard of food.
Their pool was one of my favourite parts, in an old water reservoir, with lovely views of the surroundings. They’ve now also built a ‘beach’, where you can have massages, and they have quite an extensive ‘Garden spa’, as well as a very modern gym. And for the shopaholics, they have one of the best ‘hotel’ boutiques I’ve come across, with fantastic scented candles, wines, biltong and other souvenirs. It goes without saying that they also offer daily wine tasting sessions, and are nearly finished with a new space for the wine tastings (it looks stunning).
In short, Babylonstoren is a dream come true for couples or families – an authentic, warm experience, with the more delightful staff, in the most beautiful setting.
Rates from £220 per room in low season.
Other recommended places to stay in the Franschoek area:
*La Residence (if you want to splash out)
*Mont Rochelle (If you’re a fan of the Virgin Limited properties – who isn’t?) – also good to swing by for a picnic lunch
*Or this charming Airbnb property (if you’re on a budget).
Photo credit: Babylonstoren, and some my own.