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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Best Hotels and Resorts in Africa and the Middle East: The Gold List 2023


Babylonstoren’s best trump card? It doesn’t really feel like a resort. You attain it by driving off the dusty Cape roads by way of vines and fruit bushes. Tractors trundle by, laden with grapes and peaches. The restaurant is in an outdated cowshed. Geese waddle previous. A donkey places out its nostril for kids to pat. It’s a spot the place you immediately really feel at residence (albeit one surrounded by the towering Simonsberg Mountains, rolling vineyards, and miles of aromatic indigenous fynbos shrubland). That is largely as a result of the 500-acre Seventeenth-century Cape Dutch property continues to be an precise residence – belonging to Karen Roos, the previous editor of South African Elle Ornament, who spent years creating an eight-acre Patrice Taravella – designed formal backyard containing greater than 300 styles of medicinal and edible vegetation, after which needed to share it with others.

Having spent her life conceiving elegant new areas, Roos consistently modifications issues up. Babylonstoren opened in 2010 with 13 little Cape Dutch farm staff’ cottages beside the backyard, every with a modernist glass “field” kitchen through which visitors might cook dinner recent farm elements to get pleasure from by the hearth within the spacious and vivid modern interiors. Subsequent, Roos transformed the barns and stables so as to add characterful visitor areas. Previously few years, the inventive hotelier has added a smattering of equally charming cottages among the many fynbos, away from the general public areas and surrounded by native landscaping, the higher for admiring the rugged mountainscapes. I’ve been 5 occasions, and every time I return, there’s one thing recent and stylish to discover: a farm store stocked with tempting native cheese and Cape gooseberry jams; a bakery, which at night time is reworked right into a wood-fired-pizza restaurant; and, most not too long ago, a wine cellar and museum.

You’ll be able to take a zippy golf cart out of your cottage right down to the general public areas and stroll within the sprawling gardens, with their rooster runs and beehives and rose-scented paths. Or you may have brunch or an extended, lazy lunch within the Greenhouse or Babel restaurant, then have a hammam and therapeutic massage within the not too long ago added spa. Or you are able to do as I did on my final keep and retreat into nature, quietly fishing and kayaking on small dams, biking amid fynbos within the hills, and lounging beside the brand new pool and sizzling tub, surrounded by rock gardens. Then, after a glass of wine at sundown, hand around in your light-filled, whitewashed cottage, cooking just-picked produce in your kitchen, listening to music and studying by the hearth on Italian linen-clad sofas, and soaking in a deep bathtub fragranced with recent herbs earlier than a nightcap on the little veranda, the air thick with silence and lit by the moon and Milky Means. Babylonstoren paved the way in which for cool farm stays, however few of its successors can come near matching the unique. From about £430. Lisa Grainger


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