Thanks to the opening of its Fynbos Family House, five-star Babylonstoren, a design-heavy hideaway in South Africa’s Cape Winelands, is the talk of the town in the OutThere universe this week. If you’d been looking for an exclusive-use villa and adjoining private garden for a post-pandemic reunion with the family (or an all-night bash with your best friends), we think it makes for a lush setting.
Can’t wait to go on an epic escape with your loved ones when travel resumes? Neither can we. In a quest to find a truly special place to come together again and celebrate a new start (and, frankly, make up for a few missed celebrations along the way), we stumbled across Babylonstoren’s brand-new and rather sublime-looking Fynbos Family House – some would call it coincidence, but we’ll go with destiny, instead.
South Africa devotees won’t need an introduction to Babylonstoren, of course. The sprawling estate some 40 minutes northeast of Cape Town has been a staple since current owners Koos Bekker and Karen Roos took over in 2010, turning the storied 17th-century fruit farm into one of the country’s top luxury addresses, and the most lovingly designed one at the foot of the Simonsberg and Franschhoek mountains. But the Fynbos Family House, just a few hundred metres from the main property, promises to take stylish to a whole new level while offering unparalleled privacy: think of it as a home away from home, all set with its very own private walled garden for you to explore.
Sleeping up to ten guests across five bedrooms, the estate-within-an-estate features all sorts of thoughtful amenities honouring the farm’s Cape Dutch architectural style, from a traditional ‘Klompie’ handmade brick fireplace and reclaimed wooden floors to freestanding bathtubs and a state-of-the-art kitchen encased in a (somewhat less traditional) glass cube inviting guests to take in 180-degree views of the easy-on-the-eye surrounds – who wouldn’t want to, with a glass of the farm’s very own Chardonnay in hand?
Though, if the botany-inspired artworks on display throughout the villa are anything to go by, the star of the Babylonstoren show remains its 8-acre on-sight cultivated gardens. And we wouldn’t want to have it any other way: the near-labyrinthian orchards laid out by French architect Patrice Taravella offer hours of fun and inspiration for family and friends. A popular attraction even beyond its immediate vicinity, the gardens attract fans of flora from all over and it should go without saying that to guarantee the most magical stroll around the grounds, it’s best to go before other visitors arrive, or after they have left – unless you wanted to show off your extremely attractive other half, of course (we would if we could).
Just why do we think privileged access to the orchards makes Fynbos Family House so attractive of a getaway, you ask? Well, firstly there’s our longing to reconnect with nature, as well as open spaces, which can be facilitated through guided walks with the farm’s horticulturalists. Between lockdowns and stay-at-home rules, we’ve quite simply missed those little moments of joy you experience observing a ladybug land in the palm of your hand or sensing the smell of flowers and ripening fruits in the air. But there’s also a desire to go somewhere pure; somewhere with a strong philosophy, where people with a shared passion have come together to grow something sustainably, and lovingly – that’s the garden, of course, as well as the hotel itself.
Finally, there’s perhaps a commitment to be a tad more grateful for life’s essentials (last year’s headlines of vegetable shortages still haunt us in our sleep). Travellers are promised all of this, and much more still, at Babylonstoren, where grounded comes before flashy and harmony is at the heart of every decision made. Call it a Garden of Eden if you must, though it’ll take a lot more sinning than eating from a tree to get kicked out – we’ll leave that part up to you.