Babylonstoren Garden: A Cape Winelands Oasis Explored

Babylonstoren stands as a testament to the rich agricultural heritage of the Cape Winelands. One of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, it nestles at the base of Simonsberg, in the renowned Franschhoek wine valley. With its roots stretching back to the 17th century, the estate presents a well-preserved example of a working farm, where the emphasis is as much on sustainability and preservation as it is on luxury and leisure.

The property features an expansive and meticulously maintained garden, the heart and soul of Babylonstoren. This garden is not only a tribute to the botanic diversity of the region but also draws inspiration from the historic Company’s Garden in Cape Town. Visitors may explore this horticultural marvel, which provides a scenic backdrop for a variety of activities, including guided tours, workshops, and seasonal events.

Luxury accommodation at Babylonstoren offers guests a unique experience that harmoniously blends rustic charm with modern comfort. The estate’s commitment to a farm-to-table philosophy is reflected in its restaurants and bakery, while the essence of the Winelands is captured in every aspect, from the expertly crafted wines to the design of the hotel itself. The estate asserts itself as a destination that not only respects its historical significance but also delivers an unmatched pastoral experience.

Babylonstoren Overview

Nestled in the heart of South Africa’s Cape Winelands, Babylonstoren stands as a testament to the region’s rich heritage and agricultural prowess. It is one of the oldest, fully operational Cape Dutch farms, dating back to 1692. This 200-hectare estate, with its iconic Cape Dutch architecture, emerges from the scenic Drakenstein Valley, situated roughly midway between the quaint towns of Franschhoek and Paarl.

At its core, Babylonstoren boasts an expansive and meticulously maintained garden. This verdant space draws inspiration from the historical Company’s Garden in Cape Town and serves as a centrepiece for the farm’s farm-to-fork philosophy. The focus on freshness and natural variety is reflected in the quality of produce served to patrons.

The farm’s dedication to authenticity has been nurtured under the stewardship of owner Karen Roos. Her approach is characterised by an intertwining of luxury with the intrinsic value of the farm’s tranquil and pastoral setting. Visitors are treated to the essence of farm life, enhanced by modern comforts and a connection to the origins of their food.

Babylonstoren embraces a symbiosis of history and sustainability, crafting a unique experience that pays homage to its roots while looking forward to the future of eco-conscious living and dining. This harmonious blend of the past and the present captures the imagination of all who wander through its inviting paths, engage with the on-site accommodations, or savour the flavours of its locally sourced wines and cuisine.

The Gardens

Babylonstoren boasts one of the most esteemed gardens in South Africa, a symphony of biodiversity and sustainable farming that underpins the farm hotel experience.

Orchards and Vegetable Gardens

The captivating orchards and vegetable areas are a testament to the farm’s dedication to diversity in cultivation. Fruit and vegetable gardens proliferate across the estate, showcasing a variety of produce that changes with the seasons. During summer and winter, guests can witness the metamorphosis of the gardens, as different plants come to fruition. The display includes stone and pome fruits, citrus, berries, and nuts, all cultivated on the working farm. Visitors with a Babylonstoren garden membership benefit from daily access to these vibrant gardens.

  • Vegetables: Range from leafy greens to root vegetables.
  • Fruits: Include pomegranates, plums, apples, and citrus varieties.

Additionally, these gardens function as a source of fresh ingredients for the farm hotel’s restaurant, reinforcing the connection between land and table.

The Healing Garden

The Healing Garden, a sanctuary of tranquillity, is densely planted with herbs and spices that hold medicinal value. In this space, Babylonstoren emphasises the link between nature and wellbeing. The accessibility of the garden provides an educational experience where visitors can learn about the healing properties of different plants. Guides explain the uses of various herbs, contributing to an informative and enriching garden tour.

  • Herbs & Spices: Includes rosemary, lavender, and thyme.

Seasonal Tours

Babylonstoren offers guided garden tours that are adjusted to align with the changing seasons, ensuring a unique experience with each visit. The daily tours are led by knowledgeable guides who impart insights into the labyrinth of the gardens. During summer, the flourish of the farm hotel’s gardens can be particularly breathtaking, while winter reveals the stark beauty of dormant plants. A visit to the Babel restaurant after a tour completes the garden experience, with menu items reflecting the produce of the season.

  • Daily Tours: Available for visitors to explore the gardens.
  • Guided Garden Tour: Provides deeper insights into the workings of the gardens.

Accommodation and Amenities

Babylonstoren offers guests an authentic Winelands experience with its elegant accommodations and array of amenities. Ensuring comfort and luxury, the estate provides a harmonious blend of nature and opulent facilities.

Elegant Cottages

Accommodation: Babylonstoren’s cottages offer a luxurious stay, reflecting the historical Cape Dutch architecture. Guests are treated to a tranquil retreat amidst lush gardens and expansive farmlands. Each cottage is uniquely designed with careful attention to detail, promising an exclusive and comfortable experience.

  • Nature: Visitors are encouraged to explore the well-maintained grounds in comfortable shoes, as there is much to see and do outdoors.
  • Farm Shop & Bakery: Access to fresh, farm-produced goods is made easy with an onsite farm shop and bakery, enhancing the self-catering option available in the cottages.

Farm Hotel Comforts

Hotel Experience: The Babylonstoren Hotel epitomises comfort and luxury, ensuring that every guest’s stay is exceptional. With facilities designed to cater to every need, guests can expect top-rate hospitality.

  • Activities: A plethora of activities is available, including a visit to the garden spa, wine tastings, and garden tours, immersing visitors in the full Babylonstoren experience.
  • Comfort: The hotel prides itself on giving a sense of well-being, with a promise of restful sleep in supremely comfortable beds after a day filled with activities.

Guests at Babylonstoren are met with an atmosphere of sophisticated comfort, whether they choose the privacy of a cottage or the full-service luxury of the hotel. The emphasis on quality and the seamless integration with nature sets this accommodation apart.

Dining Experiences

At Babylonstoren, the dining options are a testament to the estate’s commitment to fresh, farm-to-fork dining. Each eatery showcases the versatility of freshly harvested produce, providing an array of seasonal dishes that celebrate the garden’s bounty.

Babel Restaurant

Babel Restaurant is a culinary reflection of the garden it sits within, offering a menu that is both a visual feast and a gastronomic journey. Guests can anticipate vibrant salads that are as much a treat for the eyes as they are for the palate, with ingredients picked daily for peak freshness. The farm-to-fork philosophy extends to heartier options as well, featuring succulent meats perfectly paired with garden-fresh herbs and vegetables.

Menu Highlights:

  • Salads: A rainbow array of fresh garden produce
  • Meat: Locally-sourced and garden-seasoned meat dishes
  • Cheeses: A careful selection of local cheeses, often served as part of an antipasti spread

Greenhouse and Bakery

The Greenhouse Restaurant provides a casual, yet refined dining experience. Nestled amidst greenery, it offers light bites and refreshments perfect for a midday reprieve. The seasonally inspired menu includes artisanal breads, coffee, garden-grown preserves, and other delectable edibles crafted from the day’s harvest.

Adjacent to the Greenhouse, the estate’s Bakery serves freshly-baked breads that embody the essence of artisanal craftsmanship. The scent of freshly ground coffee complements the bakery’s warm ambiance, inviting guests to linger over a cup and enjoy the simple pleasures of bread baked with skill and passion.

Key Offerings:

  • Artisanal Breads: Baked daily with traditional techniques
  • Coffee: Expertly prepared with care and attention
  • Preserves: Homemade with fruits and herbs from the estate’s gardens

Wine and Tasting Sessions

At Babylonstoren, the Wine and Tasting Sessions offer an excursion through flavour and tradition, where each glass tells the story of the estate’s rich terroir.

Vineyard Tours

Guided tours of Babylonstoren vineyards provide a first-hand look at the grape cultivation process that culminates in their celebrated wine selection. The estate’s location, at the foot of Simonsberg mountain, contributes significantly to the character of its wines. Visitors should book in advance to secure a place on these educational tours which often end with a master wine-tasting session.

Wine Selections

Babylonstoren boasts an impressive array of quality wines ranging from robust reds to refreshing rosé. The wine-tasting experience is further enriched by the elegant Chardonnay and the complex Nebukadnesar, their renowned red blend. Additionally, Sprankel, a sparkling wine, adds vivacity to their offerings.

  • Reds: Known for their depth and character.
  • Rosé: Light and crisp, perfect for a Summers day.
  • Chardonnay: Expressive wines that reflect the unique terroir.
  • Nebukadnesar: Rich blend, a flagship of the estate.
  • Sprankel: The sparkling choice, bringing celebration to the palate.

The on-site wine museum adds a historical layer to the experience, allowing visitors to connect with the estate’s wine-making heritage. Wine-tasting sessions are complementary to the narrative of Babylonstoren’s viticulture, creating a bridge between past activities and present-day enjoyment.

Wellbeing and Leisure

At Babylonstoren, the emphasis on wellbeing is manifested through a comprehensive Garden Spa and a variety of outdoor activities, all designed to promote a sense of wellness and harmony with nature.

Garden Spa Facilities

Babylonstoren’s Garden Spa is a sanctuary that blends restorative treatments with the tranquility of the Cape Dutch farm’s natural surroundings. Guests can immerse themselves in a multi-sensory experience, featuring a sauna and steam room for relaxation. The exclusive addition of a salt room provides a unique wellness experience, benefiting respiratory health. Moreover, the spa boasts two vitality pools for rejuvenation.

  • Indoor-Outdoor Pool: Expansive swimming area allowing for year-round use, sheltered or under the sun.
  • Spa Experiences:
    • Hammam water ritual
    • Heat, steam, and mud treatments for skin nourishment
    • Selection of wraps, facials, and massages
    • Nail services enhancing the complete spa experience

The spa’s collaboration with esteemed brands ensures the highest quality of skincare treatments, ensuring visitors leave feeling renewed and centred.

Outdoor Activities

Babylonstoren presents guests with a myriad of activities to engage with the estate’s natural beauty. The outdoor swimming pool is surrounded by the lush landscape of the farm, offering a serene environment for guests to swim and relax.

  • Nature Walks: Explore the meticulously maintained gardens, with guided tours providing insights into the vast array of plant life and the estate’s history.
  • Fitness: For those seeking active wellbeing, the state-of-the-art gym is available, along with outdoor walks that double as fitness encounters.

The estate encourages guests to connect with nature, whether it’s through a peaceful garden tour or a more vigorous walk amidst the Franschhoek Valley, contributing to the holistic sense of wellbeing that Babylonstoren aims to foster.

Culinary and Produce Shop

Babylonstoren boasts a remarkable Farm Shop that mirrors the estate’s dedication to quality and tradition with a nod to innovative farming methods. This establishment offers visitors an array of culinary delights, allowing for an immersive experience into the farm’s bountiful produce. If you’re looking to indulge in fresh and artisanal foods, the Farm Shop is your go-to destination.

The bakery section is a haven for those who appreciate the warmth of freshly baked bread. Here, patrons can find a selection of baked goods crafted daily with precision and passion, exuding an irresistible aroma that beckons from afar.

Cheese and meat enthusiasts can revel in a curated selection of top-tier products. Babylonstoren’s cheese assortment includes locally sourced varieties that reflect the rich flavours of the region. The meat room, alongside, offers a range of high-quality cuts, ensuring that connoisseurs can select from the finest available options.

Those inclined towards Italian cuisine would appreciate the exquisite antipasti, consisting of thoughtfully prepared delicacies that pair perfectly with the farm’s array of fine wines. Additionally, visitors can savour the richness of the boutique coffee range, sourced and roasted to promise an engaging sensory experience.

Preserving the essence of the farm’s produce, Babylonstoren offers a variety of homemade preserves, made using traditional methods and without any artificial additives. The shelves glisten with jars of jams, chutneys, and pickles, allowing customers to take a piece of the farm home with them.

Moreover, an invitation to the olive oil tour presents an educational journey into the process of creating this golden elixir. The tour is a testament to the farm’s dedication to crafting premium products while embedding sustainable practices.

The products available at Babylonstoren capture the essence of the farm’s ethos: a seamless blend of tradition, quality, and innovation, presented in the heart of the Cape Winelands.

Educational Opportunities

At Babylonstoren, educational opportunities extend beyond traditional learning, incorporating practical experience and personal enrichment through garden-centric programmes.

Workshops and Courses

Babylonstoren offers a range of workshops and courses throughout the year for those seeking to expand their knowledge and expertise in various disciplines. Participants can immerse themselves in the scented room workshop, a uniquely sensory experience focusing on the cultivation and use of aromatic plants. Chefs from Babylonstoren lead culinary workshops, where they share techniques using fresh produce straight from the gardens. A Swedish proverb, “Learning by doing,” captures the essence of Babylonstoren’s approach, emphasising practical experience.

Gardening Memberships

For gardening enthusiasts, Babylonstoren presents an attractive Gardening Membership. This membership not only provides unlimited entry to the extraordinary gardens but also includes a schedule of informative workshops exclusively for members.

  • Benefits of Babylonstoren Garden Membership include:
    • Unlimited access to the gardens
    • Priority booking for garden workshops
    • A monthly newsletter with gardening tips and updates

RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) members visiting Babylonstoren can enjoy the gardens with the same privileges, celebrating a mutual appreciation for horticulture and garden design.

Visitor Information

Visitors seeking a diverse and tranquil experience at Babylonstoren can anticipate an array of activities encompassing garden tours, dining, and a journey through the authentic farm life. This section provides essential details for planning a satisfying visit to the estate.

Admission and Opening Times

Babylonstoren welcomes guests daily, ensuring a flexible schedule for both planned and spur-of-the-moment visits. Adults and children alike are invited to explore, but visitors should note that there is an entrance fee. It is advisable to contact the ticket office directly for the most current pricing information.

  • Opening Times: The farm and facilities are open throughout the week; however, specific opening times for the restaurant, spa, and hotel should be confirmed prior to arrival to align with visiting plans.

Facilities and Accessibility

The estate boasts a variety of facilities designed for pleasure and convenience, including a restaurant, spa, and farm shop. Comfort and accessibility are key:

  • Comfort: Visitors are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes due to the natural terrain, which includes gravel and peach pip pathways.
  • Accessibility: The farm aims to accommodate all guests and provides wheelchair access along certain paths to ensure an inclusive experience.
  • Guide Dogs: Guests with visual impairments are welcome to bring guide dogs on their visit to navigate the grounds safely.

Please bear in mind the natural setting of Babylonstoren while planning your visit to ensure it aligns with your accessibility needs and comfort.

Event Hosting and Private Functions

Babylonstoren offers a distinguished setting for event hosting and private functions within its historical Cape Dutch farm buildings. The venue harmoniously blends rich heritage with contemporary style. Events can be held in three different spaces, each embodying the farm’s tranquil ethos.

Venues available:

  • The White Studio: Ideal for intimate gatherings and features a surprise dessert station.
  • The Wheat Barn: Hosts up to 46 guests at a long table, suitable for family-style feasts.

Seasonal Pricing for the Wheat Barn (Subject to change):

  • High Season (September to April): R143,000
  • Low Season (May to August): Unspecified

Functions held at Babylonstoren are marked by the farm’s ability to interlace simplicity with elegance and a focus on the natural abundance of its gardens. Events, including weddings and private celebrations, take advantage of the picturesque surroundings and elegantly restored venues.

The venue accommodates up to 100 guests, ensuring an intimate yet flexible experience. The pricing structure varies with the season, providing options to suit different budgets and event scales. With the combination of unspoilt nature and historical architecture, Babylonstoren creates memorable occasions tailored to personal styles and preferences.

Sustainability and Conservation

Babylonstoren demonstrates a profound commitment to sustainability and conservation within its practices. As a working farm, it integrates environmental stewardship into every aspect, focusing on the comprehensive use of natural resources.

Water Conservation:

  • Engineered irrigation systems reduce water usage by 50%.
  • The farm exclusively utilises borehole sources, functioning without municipal water.

The farm’s dedication to the farm-to-fork philosophy ensures that the journey from soil to plate maintains a minimal environmental footprint. In the realm of energy, initiatives are underway to significantly increase the solar energy output, aiming to sustainably power the majority of on-farm operations.

Biodiversity Efforts:

  • Membership with the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) enforces adherence to conservation criteria.
  • The initiative promotes sustainable futures for the farm and the broader Fynbos biome.

In terms of waste management, Babylonstoren advocates for a reducetarian lifestyle, focusing on recycling and reusing materials. Such sustainable practices echo through the farm’s operations, from garden management to the products available in farm shops and online.

In Summary:

  • Water savings integrated into everyday operations.
  • Commitment to generating sustainable energy for the farm’s needs.
  • Active engagement in biodiversity protection and sustainable agriculture.
  • Promotion of sustainable consumption through a farm-to-fork approach.
  • Investment in waste reduction and recycling strategies.

Through these measures, Babylonstoren showcases a model of sustainability that encapsulates a respect for nature while maintaining productivity as a working farm.

Location and Access

Babylonstoren is sited within the Drakenstein Valley, nestled between the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof, and Franschhoek mountains, positioning it as a jewel in the Cape Winelands. This historic farm is nearly equidistant from Paarl and Franschhoek and is approximately 60 kilometres away from Cape Town.

Accessing Babylonstoren:

  • By Car: Visitors can drive to Babylonstoren using the Klapmuts Simondium Road, with the farm being clearly signposted from major routes.
  • Public Transport: There are coach services and private tours operating from Cape Town, which offer day trips to the wine estate.
  • Helicopter: For a unique arrival, visitors may opt for a helicopter transfer, savouring aerial views of the landscape.

Geographic Coordinates:

Babylonstoren33.8469° S18.9850° E

Nearby Towns:

  • Paarl: Roughly 19 km north-west of Babylonstoren, known for its historical charm and wine tasting routes.
  • Franschhoek: About 15 km south-east, famed for its gourmet dining and Huguenot heritage.
  • Cape Town: Just an hour’s drive to the south-west, offering diverse urban culture and attractions.

Visitors should consider the farm’s opening hours and book any visits in advance, to ensure a seamless experience. With its idyllic setting, Babylonstoren promises visitors not only a scenic journey but also a rich and multi-dimensional Winelands experience.

Contact and Bookings

For guests seeking to experience the allure of Babylonstoren, the estate offers a range of options for stay and relaxation. Accommodation bookings for the hotel can be made daily between 8h00 and 17h00. To reserve a stay at this historic Cape Dutch farm, guests may reach out via email at or contact the hotel directly on +27 (0)21 863 3852, where the team ensures a confident service in tailoring to travel needs.

Enquiries & Hotel Reservations:

The estate proudly presents its wine heritage through tastings, inviting guests to savour the robust flavours of their meticulously crafted wines. Booking enquiries for such tastings can be directed to the same contact details as hotel reservations.

For an epicurean experience, Babylonstoren boasts its Babel Restaurant with distinct dining options extending from breakfast through to dinner. Advance reservations are highly recommended to secure a slot at this sought-after venue. Restaurant bookings can be secured online, with breakfast served daily and lunch and dinners on selected days.

Restaurant Bookings (Babel):

  • Book Online:
  • Breakfast: Mon to Sun, 8h00-10h00
  • Lunch: Wed to Sun, 12h30-15h30
  • Dinner: Mon to Sun, 18h00-21h00

Those seeking rejuvenation may book spa appointments, which are available daily. The spa offers an expansive catalogue of treatments to promote wellness and tranquillity.

Spa Appointments:

Additionally, the estate’s garden is open for visitors, who can immerse themselves in the diversity of Babylonstoren’s extensive natural beauty. The garden’s opening times along with details for purchasing items from the online shop are accessible via the official website.

It is to be noted that all bookings are crucial to guarantee availability, ensuring guests can fully experience what Babylonstoren has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Babylonstoren prompts intrigue with its rich history and a diverse range of activities and accommodations. Below are the most commonly asked questions by visitors.

What activities are available to visitors at Babylonstoren?

Visitors can explore an Eden-like garden, enjoy farm-to-table cooking, and partake in wine tasting from the estate’s award-winning selection. There is also a play area for children and the estate is accessible to wheelchair users.

How has the history of Babylonstoren shaped its current identity?

Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, has preserved its historical architecture and agricultural heritage. The farm’s timeless aesthetic and commitment to garden diversity reflect its storied past.

What options for accommodation does Babylonstoren provide?

The estate offers unique accommodation options that combine historical charm with modern luxury, ensuring a comfortable and serene stay amidst the beauty of the vineyards and gardens.

Who is the proprietor of the Babylonstoren estate in Cape Town?

The current proprietor of Babylonstoren is not explicitly mentioned in the provided search results. The estate, however, has continuation of its legacy through the diligent stewardship of its custodians.

What is the significance of the name ‘Babylonstoren’?

The name ‘Babylonstoren’ translates to ‘Tower of Babylon’, reflecting the historical and biblical connotations of the estate’s lush and diverse gardens.

What are the rates for staying overnight at Babylonstoren?

Rates for staying overnight at Babylonstoren vary and visitors are advised to book in advance to secure their stay at this sought-after estate, especially during peak seasons.

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