Two weeks ago, I was invited to spend the day at the incredible Garden Spa at Babylonstoren in Franschhoek.
For those of you not familiar with Babylonstoren, it’s one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, boasting one of the best-preserved farmhouses in the Cape. It’s renowned for it’s incredible fruit and vegetable gardens, restaurants (including the award winning Babel) and beautiful farm hotel.
The Garden Spa can best be described as a living spa, set in a forest of bamboo with tranquil greenery and a myriad lei water channels to set the tone and soothe the soul. Some of the traditional treatment rooms are housed in a pavilion constructed of bamboo, which comprises a chill room, hammam and a gym.
There’s a great selection of classic treatments ranging from hydrating body wraps, to bespoke facials and deluxe pedicures.
Every morning, fresh herbs such as rosemary, lavender and lemon thyme are picked for use in the Spa’s daily rituals and for their palate-cleansing spa food menu. Dictated by what’s seasonal, ripe and delicious, the spa menu focuses on fresh juices and whole fruits from the magnificent gardens.
Our morning kicked off with a very relaxing pedicure that consisted of a soak, scrub, massage and paint. While having my feet pampered, I couldn’t help but notice the incredible attention to every single detail in this spa (me thinks the inimitable Karen Roos had a hand in the décor). Just look at the beautiful copper vessel one puts ones feet in to soak prior to having a pedi.
The visually alluring basin (not sure how else to describe it) in the pedicure station, with its edgy yet classic green subway tiles and brass taps resonated deeply with my aesthetic. I nearly hyperventilated when I noticed the exquisitely minimal, yet stunningly practical taps and shower head in the wet rooms. I’m such a sucker for great design and attention to detail.
Next, we were given a tour of the newly opened Healing Garden that includes an incredible range of herbs and medicinal plants. The gardens plants are intended to heal, soothe and balance the body through the time-honored ritual of tea drinking.
We walked around the garden with one of the farms horticulturists, who explained the unique benefits of each plant. After selecting a few herbs that resonated with us personally, we were seated, picnic-style, on a tatami floor inside the most glorious bamboo gloriette.
A bamboo tray was placed in front of us with hot water for our tea infusion.
My personal tea infusion included spearmint, elderflower and Pineapple Sage and was deliciously refreshing.
Along with our tea, we enjoyed the most delicious and very unique lunch that included Matcha tea sandwich cake with yoghurt mint spread, fresh berries and summer fruit, topped with a drizzle of honey. Next up was cucumber and lightly smoked trout roulade with lavender- flavored cream cheese and toasted sesame.
My absolute favourite was the date balls with toasted coconut, and the Chevin cheese truffles with ginger, encrusted with Rooibos tea. To finish off, we munched on refreshing slices of watermelon with a rose geranium and pistachio pesto.
Once we were done with our tea ceremony and light lunch, we sat in the beautiful healing garden taking all the beauty in. We were told to dangle our feet in the water of the pond. Suddenly, to our utter delight, tiny fish appeared, nibbling the bits of dry skin off our feet. This took a minute or two of getting used to, as it was a tad ticklish.
It was then time for our treatment. Mine kicked off with a 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage (R450) that literally melted all my tension away. My stressed out skin then got pampered with a 60 minute Esse Skincare Basic Facial (R790). Esse is an incredible, local organic skincare line based on probiotics. My facial included a skin analysis and exfoliation followed by a soothing mask, serum and hydrating moisturiser. The treatment also included a hand massage.
I emerged from all this bliss feeling like a new person. I finished my blissful spa day off with a quick dip in the pool (which was actually the old farm reservoir) and a steam in the glorious marble hammam.
Special shoutout to my two stunning models Suzanne & Juana
I’ve visited a lot of day spas in my career as a beauty journo, but have to admit that the Garden Spa at Babylonstoren has scooped the accolade of my favourite spa in South Africa. Thanks to the team for an incredible experience – I can’t wait to come back.
For more on the Garden Spa, the Healing Garden and Babylonstoren’s hotel and restaurants, check out www.babylonstoren.com