DESIGN DESTINATION | Fynbos Cottages at Babylonstoren, Western Cape
This famed Cape Dutch farm has just added some luxurious, but low-key cottages to its award-winning accommodation offerings. Julia Freemantle checks them out
A real-life Secret Garden meets Garden of Eden paradise, Babylonstoren's appeal goes beyond the epic scenery. The real X-factor of this Western Cape fruit and wine farm is its attention to detail. From the stylishly turned-out staff to colour-coded salads and perfectly espaliered fruit trees, everything you eat, drink, see and smell is curated.
The accommodation is no different. An extension of the tasteful visual journey you begin when driving into the farm, the hotel is immersed in daily farm life.
The newly completed Fynbos Cottages, open from January 2019, straddle the vineyards and the orchards. Higher up than the hotel's other accommodation options, with views over the farm dam, the cottages are perfect for those looking for peace and privacy.
Nature lovers and birders will also approve - 78 bird species have been spotted on the farm and lucky guests might even catch sight of a fish eagle.
Built in the Cape Dutch style - with some of the existing farm buildings transformed into guest accommodation - it's completely at home in the pastoral setting, but is also on a 21st-century design level as far as interior design and amenities go. The luxurious but low-key spaces are on the minimal side and feature pieces by the likes of Kartell, Magis and the Bourellec Bros.
A reference to the plants prolific in the Western Cape, the new cottages draw on this landscape for inspiration. A subtle indigenous plant, fynbos is delicate and understated rather than flamboyant and flashy, as well as truly South African, and the Fynbos Cottages embody these qualities in their reference to vernacular architecture and authentic, relaxing farm-style spaces.
Thick whitewashed walls, typical Cape Dutch gables and generous fireplaces are country hospitality in a nutshell, but updated for a contemporary audience. Each of the two open-plan, one-bedroom cottages has a luxurious en-suite bathroom, kitchen area and lounge. The four two-bedroom cottages include a contemporary glass cube, which has been added on to the 18th-century structure to house a dining and kitchen area that looks outdoors.
The new Pool Room lounge and bar area - exclusively for the use of Fynbos guests - is a tranquil space with a crystal-clear swimming pool. Here you can relax while overlooking the natural pools - cleaned naturally by indigenous, oxygenating plants - and enjoy coffee, herbal tea or a glass of your choice of Babylonstoren wines.
In this idyllic place there's no shortage of hotel-type activities and facilities - forage in the garden for your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, swim in the dam, visit the spa and dine at either of the three Babylonstoren eateries.
For guests, many of the pastimes are included - such as garden access, tours and walks, bicycles to explore on, cellar tours and wine tasting, rowing on the dam and in-house experiences like bread baking and morning veggie harvest with gardeners.