City Guide № 10 : Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday 12th June, 2013
This is maybe one of my absolute favorite places on earth. I’ve never had such a great time at a hotel, maybe because it doesn’t feel like a hotel at all.
What it feels like, actually, is your own thatched roof home in a vineyard, where you are given baskets of fruit and breads, bottles of wine, and freshly cured meats to barbecue in your backyard. I had a hard time categorizing Babylonstoren — should I put it in “where to stay” or “where to eat”?
The food here is without doubt some of the best you’ll ever taste, but the experience of staying in one of the few houses is too important to ignore. We arrived here in the middle of a warm week in January and were taken down a dirt path lined with oak and acorn trees to our house . . .
After we were shown the room, they drove us to the pool, which is a cold freshwater pool sunken into a ceder deck in the middle of the vineyard.
We were given plums and wine and an inner tube to float on in the water. The saunas and indoor pool are amazing, and the two restaurants on the ground are happy and welcoming. The pizza here is meant to be eaten twice, once at dinner and then again at midnight when you eat the rest of it like a maniac out of the box.
Everything here is sourced from the farm, and 8 acres of gardens, the tea house is walking distance from your room, and you can even feed the local tortoise some lettuce while drinking your tea.
There’s a small shop that sells wine and candles, and you can see millions of stars when the night falls . . .
This restaurant sits on the corner of a beautiful brick lane and welcomes you to sit outside under umbrellas for breakfast or lunch. The juices are freshly made and combine unique flavors such as grapefruit and cucumber. My favorite is the fresh pineapple juice (with pink gin and tonic). Try the sweet farm bread, salads with mango, eggs benedict, and gnocchi with truffle mushrooms. It’s a shame they aren’t open for dinner, really, because this place just might be the best in town. Book in advance.
This is one of the best meals I’ve ever had, hard to explain, but I will try. There’s a few ways to order, but the tasting menu is the most fun and you will get nice portions (not snobby gourmet sizes). Get the crisp fried pork belly, smoked beef fillet, and goat cheese with sweet potatoes for dinner, and for dessert try the olive oil ice cream. Really. The wait list is over 3 months, so call immediately, it’s well worth the wait!
The atmosphere is cozy and casual, with Chinese movie posters plastered to the wall and bench style seating with green silk cushions. Easy menu items on a small but very good menu. Traditional dim sum dumplings and noodle bowls. Cold red wine to pair, Chinese beers, and at the end, the Jasmine Tea ice cream makes you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation.
This shop is pretty much perfect. There are two locations in Cape Town, one on Long Street and one in Woodstock. Two very stylish guys started this home furnishings store and have collected incredible items such as taxidermy peacocks and antique marble statues. French champagne buckets, floral pillows, monogrammed table clothes, and chemistry jars for vases. Very inspiring for interior designers or anybody with an eye for decoration.
Not only is this a great coffee shop and café with the best burgers ever, but upstairs is a beautiful Men’s shop that carries Acne, Our Legacy, A. P. C. and Le Labo products displayed in a modern loft-like space, with rolling oak ladders and black chrome shelving. This spot also sells great magazines like Kinfolk & Gather (the only retailer of these in Cape Town). Their motto is “Today Was A Good Day”, which I like very much.
Super pretty & ethereal clothes for men and women, this shop is like a modern disco party on a yacht. Cool ethnic patterns and 70’s style pants, leather clutches and Annie Hall shirts. Silk mermaid gowns in magenta and turquoise, ocean blue & canary yellows. The design team also makes sturdy and satisfyingly simple leather bags, clutches, in every color of the rainbow.
Picnic at Kirstenbosch Gardens
This is a huge sprawling paradise of botanical gardens and lawns, hidden waterfalls and forests.
Go here on a weekday and you’ll be basically alone, quiet except for the guinea fowl and African hadidas picking at the ground.
Take a picnic and a camera and explore all afternoon. There is also a pretty tea room and a fun gift shop with all local art. Spot owls in the trees and tiny ducklings walking behind their mothers.
Every Saturday from 8am-2pm this farmer’s market is packed with locals and tourists trying food from farm stalls and tasting wines. Go early and take a camera and cash; stylish men’s and women’s clothing lines are sold, as are leather goods, beers, and flowers. There is a cart for cold gin & tonics, so you know I’ll be there every weekend.
Drive to Cape Point
This is one of the prettiest and most interesting drives to take. Stop at little shops on the way, and then expect to see families of baboons on the side of the road as you enter Cape Point Nature Reserve. They will climb on your car so watch out!
The hike up to the lighthouse is unforgettable, and the view of the ocean wraps around in a perfect panorama, as the two oceans meet, combining freezing Atlantic water and warm Indian seas.
Bring a jacket in case a cloud decides to cover the hills (and your face).
Emily A Faulstich Du Preez Contributor, Cape Town
A photographer, fashion designer & adventurer, Emily began her first company, Wildfox, with Kim Gordon in 2007, where she was co-creative director and designer for five years. She now lives in Cape Town with my husband and is working on a secret new project!