Wish We Were Here: Babylonstoren
Hello, Monday. Wouldn't it be absolute bliss to start your week with a soak in this bathing beauty? All it takes is a plane ticket to South Africa and a night at one of the world's dreamiest hotels—this week's Monday Design Daydream, Babylonstoren.
Here's why I'm more than mildly obsessed with this hotel: it combines so much of what is good about life, from serene interiors to lush vegetable gardens to food that redefines what farm-to-table can be. Located in the Cape Winelands' Franschhoek Valley, less than an hour from Cape Town, the property was originally a 17th-century fruit farm and homestead, and guest suites are set in traditional Cape Dutch thick-walled cottages lit by open hearths.
Owner Karen Roos, former editor of South Africa's Elle Decoration, achieved the perfect mix of rustic and contemporary in her airy interiors. Details such as barn doors and claw-foot tubs are in keeping with the farm's authentic character, even when juxtaposed with pieces by modern design darlings such as Philippe Starck.
Still, there's no doubt what the star attraction is: the eight-acre edible garden. Granted, it's a mere fraction of the hundreds of acres of orchards, vineyards, and grounds, but it's an edible garden like you've never seen it before. Vegetables, fruit, and herbs grow in formal beds, interspersed with 48 pergolas of climbing roses, creative pathways (one is paved with peach pips), and a greenhouse tearoom featuring classic Luxembourg chairs.
Second runner up in terms of star power is Babylonstoren's main restaurant, Babel (above). The pared-down space could almost look clinical were it not for the witty mix of design elements: the varying tables and chairs, the vegetable arrangements, and the bovine portrait that gazes placidly down from a wall. All that white only serves to make the colors of the dishes truly sing. Can we just take a moment to praise the beauty of this well-propped table below?
(Source: Babylonstoren)And finally, the Farm Shop, where Babylonstoren's roots are not only referenced but celebrated. There's a wood-fired oven for artisan breads, a deli for charcuterie, a wine tasting facility, a cheese room, and even a room devoted to handmade soaps. Side note: The table above, which looks to be hewn from a single tree trunk, is the communal dining table of my dreams.