Country: South Africa
Architect: Karen Roos
Typical of the Cape province in South Africa, the old farm buildings in Cape Dutch style were known as ‘werfs’. With its sinuous lines and massive white walls, Babylonstoren is among the best preserved of these and its origins date back to 1690. Located in the mountains 60 kilometres from Cape Town, the main house and 11 cottages have been renovated by the owner, Karen Roos, and her husband, strictly in keeping with their tradition but with notable contemporary renovation.
While retaining their original style, modern furnishings and a glass wall, behind which is a small kitchen, have now been introduced in a blend of styles that seems entirely natural. In the same spirit, the old kraal has now become the Babel restaurant, with its simple but creative dishes, made using only products grown on site.
The buildings are set in 3 hectares of gardens – almost a tribute to Company’s Gardens in Cape Town that once supplied the ships travelling between Asia and Europe – with food and fresh water. The over 300varieties of plants that are grown are all edible.
The farm Hotel offers a new take on the traditional farm experience, encouraging guests to wander among the fruit trees, herbs and vegetable gardens, to taste the bread baked in a wood oven, and to take part personally inthe sowing and harvesting. To complete this unique experience are the spa, with its marble hammam, and the store, which sells the famous wines produced on the farm and in the area surrounding the estate, cheeses and other local delicacies.
In cottage Room 12 and blending harmoniously into its surroundings is the Vieques steel bath by Patricia Urquiola, here in white both inside and outside and complemented by a back-rest in teak. With its retro flavour, it offers a contemporary reinterpretation of the old bathtubs and stands as a perfect example of the mood and spirit of the place.
photography: Karen Roos