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Babylonstoren Simondium , Franschhoek , South Africa

Babylonstoren Simondium, Franschhoek, South Africa

Babylonstoren Simondium

Location

Situated at the base of this craggy Simonsberg mountains (incidentally excellent red wine terroir), this is very much a working farm but nicely located for exploring the Cape’s Winelands. It is closest to Paarl (15 minutes) but just 25 minutes from the middle of Franschhoek or Stellenbosch. Cape Town city-centre is one hour off.

Style & personality

Former magazine editor and neighborhood fashion guru Karen Roos has an unerring design eye, also contains beautifully juxtaposed the historical, demanding and hand-hewn roots of her 18th-century farm using clean-lined modern elements that improve both. The kitchen garden design was conceived by French architect Patrice Taravella, however, Roos’ hand is evident from every other facet — by the restaurant which feeds its customers, to the resort where they rest, her layering of layout components highlights the attractiveness of the first rural Cape Dutch personality.

Service & amenities

The spa is outstanding, the wines award, and also the restaurant features a waiting list that’s filled two weeks beforehand, but it’s the eight-acre kitchen backyard that’s the star of this series, with over 300 varieties of plant watered by gurgling streams in the gravity-aided irrigation method. As amazing as it is bountiful, this is actually the first and only RHS-partnered backyard in Africa. There’s also a beautiful dam-style swimming pool, and a good deal of bikes and canoes to explore the farm. Staff — sourced in the valley and handpicked by director Terry de Waal — are justifiably pleased to be here and provide hot country-style hospitality.

Laundry
Parking
Pool
Restaurant
Room support
Spa
Wi-Fi

Rooms

The first Farm Resort has only 13 suites in cottages that line the dishonest route resulting in the restaurant. Bogged down the shaded lane, the prognosis is authentic — miniature shuttered windows and green doorways from thick whitewashed walls — but step within the one and two-bedroom cottages and light drains through contemporary clipped-on glass boxes which encircle a dining and kitchen table. A massive hearth takes off the chill, the baths are huge, kitchens have free fruit, olive oil, rooibos tea and wine (all generated on the farm); although the novels are well picked. Additionally, there are Nespresso machines, TVs, fireplaces and air.

The most recent addition is that the nine-room lodge that’s been produced from the first farm manager’s house, perfect for groups.

Food & beverage

On account of the constant demand, reservations for Babel, the restaurant, open two weeks beforehand. Practically everything on your plate is going to be increased in the backyard; it is a traditional fork-to-table narrative but the number produced with this eight-acre ‘pantry backyard’ is rather astonishing. Salads are, understandably, a highlight, using Maranda Engelbrecht mixing species and flavours to provide three seasonal ‘red’, ‘green’ and ‘yellow’ salads. Meat portions are generous, so a lot of it served on the bone at the simple country style Engelbrecht favours. Greenhouse is a great alternative luncheon place if you can not locate a desk at Babel.

Breakfasts are huge — that the spread comprises everything from many different handmade granolas, honeycomb, eggs and fresh fruit in the garden, yummy yoghurts and a hot breakfast menu which will have you wondering if you are ever going to feel hungry.

Value for cash

Double rooms from R4300 (#258) for 2 in low season; also out of R8100 (#487) at large. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.

Accessibility for guests with disabilities?

Not geared towards disabilities.

Family-friendly?

The solitude and distance of this two-bedroom cottages and rural farm setting make this a fantastic family destination.

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