Babylonstoren in the rain  slimpaley


Happy November !!

 Santa Barbara welcomed in the new month with a big, fat, luscious rainfall which, as most of you know, was absolute manna from heaven for our drought-weary area. The rain arrived in the evening, and here in Montecito, one of the most beautiful gardening regions in the world, doors and windows were thrown open to soak up the sight, sound and smell of the blessed event. Much like the arrival of the Monsoon in India, many of us, giddy with delight-having been parched for so many  months on end, ran out to bask in the liquid gold, twirling around like kids at first snowfall.


rain on rose

My garden yesterday.


I couldn’t wait to venture into my garden in the morning, where the scent of wet earth and revived chlorophyll was still intoxicating. Skies were once again oh so blue but by mid afternoon deeply bruised clouds suddenly roiled over the mountains and we were rewarded with another unexpected downpour.  Still out in the garden with a friend, we got soaked before dashing indoors to light a fire and throw our wet clothes in the dryer. Wonderful!!


Babylonstoren 1 slimpaleyMy Instagram pic driving through Babylonstoren Farm.


The last time I experienced that sort of downpour was during our South African holiday this summer. We’d driven to the wine region, 45 minutes from Cape Town, heading toward ominously dark skies. By the time we’d reached our first stop at Fairview Vineyards for a morning wine tasting (do not judge lest ye be judged) we were puddle jumping the short distance from the car to the warmth and comfort of the tasting room. Seated around a table that could no doubt tell a tale or two, we sampled various manner of grape while sheets of rain pelted against the old windows foggy with heat from within.



After Fairview and another short but sweet stop for a chocolate tasting, we arrived at our final destination.


890A3271 chocolate tasting South Africa Slim Paley


890A3267 chocolate tasting

What I retained from the tasting;  All chocolate is good.


Meanwhile, back to the gist of the post…




Nestled at the foot the Simonberg mountain, in the Drakenstein Valley in the Western Cape of South Africa, sits my newest 300 year old obsession “BABYLONSTOREN”

A working farm with original buildings and elements dating back to the 17th century, Babylonstoren is also a hotel with restaurant, greenhouse, charcuterie, dairy, bakery, cellar and so much more. Orchards, vineyards, chickens and geese, a chamomile lawn, pool, spa and streams, 8 acres of fruits, vegetables and herbs, cooking classes, bike riding, wine tasting… I’m guessing you’re guessing I could go on and on 🙂

This part of South Africa enjoys wet, but relatively moderate winters and warm dry summers. Resembling Santa Barbara and the wine districts of Southern California to a great degree, it shares many of the same species of trees, flowers and general vegetation. Stone fruit, olive trees and citrus proliferate, as do virtually any vegetable you can possibly think of.






Being a huge fan of Cape Dutch architecture, Babylonstoren has been on my “Inspiration List” for a quite a few years now.

The combination of thatched and metal roofs, immensely thick white washed plaster walls and romantic gables just does it for me.

As we drove through the gates, windscreen wipers furiously paced, I’d finally arrived.




.1398353213-WEB UPDATE 2014 GARDEN ARCH CHEFSWorking the farm. (last 4 photos via Babylonstoren)

Despite the rain, misty horizon and muddy roads, it did not disappoint.

In fact truth be told, we all agreed there was something quite magical about Babylonstoren even on this most dismal of days. We could only imagine what it must be like in fair weather !



The 13 Cottages, kitted out in white, are very modern yet cozy. Wood burning fireplaces, heated bathroom floors, a big claw foot tub, and best of all the beds; fluffy duvets, heated mattresses and hot water bottles…did I mention cozy??!

A nicely curated shelf of books divides the seating area from the bed and a large basket of fruits and veggies from the garden awaits guests along with a bottle of Babylonstoren wine. The staff are very kind.


babylonstoren_1via Babylonstoren

Unfortunately, due to the wet weather, I had to make due with just my iPhone for photos. “Big Daddy” stayed nice and dry in his camera case.


IMG_3655 Rainy night Babylonstoren slimpaley

You can see by the road gullies how hard it was raining. Luckily, his and hers wellington boots were also in the rooms. As well as speedy internet service. I honestly don’t recall if they had TV’s or not.



IMG_3659 Babylonstoren slimpaley

Magical light on the way to the restaurant from our cottage.



IMG_3626 dinner Babylonstoren slimpaley

Dinner with our boys was enjoyed by the fire.  Biltong soup served in large glass jars and huge but thin crusted pizzas made to order. How about Parma ham, chilli & blue brie? Or perhaps oyster mushrooms, chevin, garlic and lemon zest?



The daily specials being posted in the restaurant. (photo via the Babel cookbook)




890A3361_2 Babylonstoren  slimpaley

Various home cured meats in the refrigerated charcuterie room.





Biltong (a dried, cured meat which tastes a lot better than it looks, originated in South Africa) hanging in the charcuterie.



The charcuterie was a particular favourite of our older son.  They also had massive wheels of cheese in there but I can’t share that photo due to Rain Hair.



a breakfast ‘tart’ at Babel.  (photo via Babel book)




the farm at dusk


IMG_3648 cozy Babylonstoren slimpaley



A partial checklist from the room;

Have you…

Joined the garden tour

Been on the farm walk before breakfast

toured the cellar

Fed the donkeys

walked the prickly pear maze

cycled to the dam

collected eggs for breakfast

visited the spa

climbed Babylonstoren Hill

joined us for yoga





Although we didn’t get to do any of these things we still had a great one night stay and the good news is that gives us a great excuse to return some day!


IMG_3663 gate Babylonstoren slimpaley

a rather ingenious way for a gate to close- see the rock on the right? It pulls it shut.



890A3351 goodbye Babylonstoren

Goodbye beautiful Babylonstoren.

We hope to return sooner than later. Thank you for the inspiration and the cozy memories.




Their cookbook. G O R G E O U S.





Roses and artichokes via “Babel”


To learn more about Babylonstoren  visit their website  HERE


Happy Travels and fasten your seat belts- you know how fast November goes!

xx SP



PS. I have no affiliation, relation to, or funny business with Babylonstoren.  Just a fan. 😉




  1. The rain arrived down here (Los Angeles) about 12:30-1 am) and it was glorious. The morning was a glimpse of pure heaven. Yes, wonderful, sweet, precious rain. Now for about 50 more good soakings this winter.

  2. This looks like pure heaven. And yes, I ran around outside in the rain in the dark with my umbrella upside down! Pennies from heaven ringing in my ears. Today LA was sparkling clean after that rain.
    Must see South Africa sometime ….sounds perfect. And a bit like LA of old.

  3. Hi Slim, glad you had a chance to experience Babylonstoren, it is a little piece of heaven here in the Cape. We spent a glorious May day, walking through the amazing gardens with beautiful vistas at every turn.

  4. Beautiful post–this will now be one my list of places to get to one of these days. We also got the rain here is San Diego, and share your joy about it. We hope it is the first of many rains this season. Happy pre-holidays!


    I ran out and did a “rain dance” and thanked my mother “up there” for sending the rain! ( Our pond had completely dried up)….we have had someone installing a lining in it…) it will turn out fine but it wouldn’t have without my husband…let me tell you)

    thank God the mother duck knew to go to a neighbor who has a pond and a “matching duck house” (I sold it to Lynn) the mother duck walked an entire mile to take her babies who couldn’t fly for two or three more weeks… friend Lynn answered the phone when I called….completely frantic (it is a wonder Adam didn’t just put me in a straightjacket);

    Lynn said….a neighbor just called…..”Open the gate!! there is a mother duck and seven ducklings on the other side! And she did. this is the same duck who got scared at Lynn’s house by the garbage truck…..and walked her 12 little babies across the “Preserve” over here! this is the same duck….she has a very distinctive “neck” Lynn and I recognize this duck!!

    And then I told the pond person……(the pond was the saddest thing you have ever seen…there was a 6 foot section that was still a bit damp. “Please be careful….most of the turtles have run away….by God….he found a turtle….and we took it to my friend Lynn’s! the turtle is friends with the ducks!

    I think this week the pond will be finished! And it rained today! Lordy!! Prayers were answered!

  6. What a fabulous the vibe, that great big chalkboard wall, it is so beautiful…we have had high winds and got a big dose of heavy rain two days ago. But the elements can’t keep us down……gotta keep truckin’. Thanks for sharing these beautiful highlights:)

  7. Slim your images even taken with your phone are always fabulous! What a magical place and setting indeed. Everyone I talk to is so excited about finally getting some much needed rain!

    The Arts by Karena

  8. When you come back (notice I say when), the garden tour of Babylonstoren is an absolute must. From beautiful espaliered fruit trees, to ducks that are let out of their enclosure twice a day to deal with the snail problem, to fruits and vegetables you have never heard of, to an apple tree stemming from Sir Isaac Newton’s family home, and an olive tree from the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem. It really is the most amazing and interesting place. x Sharon

  9. So excited to see this magnificent place! Brings back wonderful memories of our visit there a decade ago before it was a hotel. It was more like a historical village and looked exactly the same. Thanks for sharing. xo

  10. Wow!!! A remarkable post! Thank you!!! I have a request! I am visiting Santa Barbara for the first time this February for only 4 days! Would you consider a post on the “don’t miss” places for us to visit! Where ever you would tell us to go I know we can’t miss! I love your blog …it takes me to places I will never get to see! Thank you soooo much! If you ever get to Omaha I’ve got some places for you to “not” miss,( just a couple)!

    • Thank you so much Amy!
      I know I’ve promised in the past to compile a “Don’t Miss” post for Santa Barbara. Thank you for reminding me :-0 In the meantime, you may use my ‘search for’ icon (the magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner) to search for posts about Santa Barbara.

  11. Wonderful post as usual, Slim! Love the cozy pictures. And, I had NO IDEA that Mondecito is a lot like India in that it has a Monsoon as well. You learn something new everyday, don’t you! 🙂

  12. What a beautiful place and, I am sure, a wonderful adventure for you and your family.
    Could move into one of the white structures tomorrow!!!!

  13. “Rainfall warning, flooding in Metro Vancouver forecast
    Environment Canada forecasts 50 mm of rain will fall by Tuesday morning”

    and no I’m not going to go twirl around in it! However, the morning wine tasting sounds enticing:)

    Thank you for the fab post!

  14. I’m from the rainiest city in the country and it’s not Seattle. Sometimes too much of a good thing. Your post was most amazing and I’m putting it on my bucket list. Beautiful,beautiful photos. Thanks for introducing us.

  15. How timely! There was an article in yesterdays NY Times about this town although I liked your pics better. What a beautiful area! They did review Babel too! Looks amazing!

  16. wow….that is a very stylish place….slim…i think it is time for you to propose the travel book deal…really…i look to your posts to see what and where…your writing is excellent and photo amazing…clarkson potter could get a real two for one….i would buy…leslie

  17. oh i forgot…if you get book..i would be really pissed off if you neglected blog..cause you were Editing Dear Book….ahem….leslie

  18. M A G I C. You always introduce me to places I didn’t know I wanted to visit! Add this ah-mazing place to the line up. Your blog is great for my bucket list. But it’s not just the locations ~ your writing and photos {even iPhone} are the best. And what Leslie said about A BOOK. : )

  19. Looks glorious Slim!

    I too would love a ‘Slim’s don’t miss list for Santa Barbara’. More than likely passing through late January 2015. No pressure 😉 Last visited in 1992! Yikes.

    And surely there is a future post brewing for ‘rain hair’. There HAS to be a way around it xo

Would love to hear from you!