“Babel” means “a confused noise made by a number of voices”. Babylonstoren — on the other hand — is far from confused. Or noisy. And to call it a wine farm or a five-star restaurant would be a sin. Babylonstoren is a seedbed of South African creativity.
We went as a gift from my mom, who had heard about it but had never found a moment in her own diary or a time when it wasn’t fully booked. There really could be no better way to introduce Arvid to the Cape, or to South Africa for that matter.
“The days are intentionally unscripted at Babylonstoren, leaving guests free to do as they please.” — Babylonstoren
It’s owned by one of South Africa’s richest men– Koos Bekker, which isn’t to say it smacks of gaudy wealth and Tinsel Town. And you get the impression you don’t need to spend dinner minding your P’s and Q’s — it feels like home with some added luxury. It’s so tastefully designed and so thoughtfully considered — from how the ducks take care of the snails in the garden to the 6pm delivery of champagne and butternut nibbles to your door. The chef even made homemade tomato sauce when I asked for some All Gold for them morning eggs. It’s service that South Africans have never seen.
And the owners have had such a hand in its making; Mister Bekker knows the name of every gardener by name. That’s the magic of the place: the staff are happy and it shows in their work. Rachel, our personal assistant, had been hand-picked from a job as a teller at lower-end, clothing store Ackermans. Just because she had an infectious smile.
The Babylonstoren Garden has been raised from the ground by Lead Horticulturist, Gundala — a 21st century garden gypsy and flower fairy. She’s ever-so lovely, and plant befok! So plant befok, I considered botany as a back-up career to yachting after a two-hour walk through the garden. Better still, all veggies served at the Babel Restaurant come straight out of the garden. And the rule in the kitchen is this: veggies are served either whole or raw. None of the fuss.
Most surprising of all is the cost. Yes, a night or two might set you back a few thousand but a lunch at The Greenhouse cost us R380.00 for four glasses of wine, three lunches and a cheesecake to share. I can promise you, the 40-minute drive from Cape Town won’t be wasted.
You simply have to go!