Heaven for Foodie
If you are a foodie, Cape Town is the right place for you. We had so many great meals there that it was hard to pick highlights. We found a few restaurants worthy of Michelin star(s) but the costs were usually about 1/3 of what one would typically pay in New York for meals of similar quality. Our absolute favorites were the Greenhouse and Babel Restaurant. The former is all about its creative tasting menu and the latter is known for its fresh farm-to-table dishes.
Hiking in Cape Town
Cape Town was breathtakingly beautiful. Blue ocean, golden beaches, and green mountains ... Cape Town is gifted with so many natural wonders that hiking is a must-do activity if you visit this city. While Table Mountain is arguably the most famous to hike, we chose Lion's Head based on a local friend's recommendation. The trail is easily accessible from the city (see Lion's Head trail info) and suitable for beginner hikers, with unobstructed views from Table Mountain to the city’s skyline. We finished our 3-hr hike with a couple of refreshing drinks at The Rumbullion, the outdoor terrace area of The Roundhouse Restaurant.
Boulders Penguin Colony
Located in the Cape Peninsula, Boulders Beach is a sheltered beach made up of inlets between granite boulders. It has become a popular tourist stop because a colony of African penguins settled there in 1982. From just two breeding pairs in the beginning, the penguin colony has grown to about 3,000 birds today. It is quite a scene to be able to observe this vulnerable species at close range.
The most famous restaurant in Cape Town during our visit was Test Kitchen, which has won a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for a number of years. Even though we tried months ahead to reserve a table, we couldn't get it (and we were told later that you need to try at least 6 months ahead to secure a reservation). So instead we tried its Asian-influenced sister restaurant, The Pot Luck Club, which is located in the same area, Old Biscuit Mill. The lunch was good but wasn't great, so even till today we still wonder how different our experience would have been had we gone to Test Kitchen. Luckily, our dinner at The Greenhouse that night more than made up for the small disappointment at lunch.
The Greenhouse is located a bit out of the way at the Cellars-Hohenort, a beautiful Relais & Chateau member property. The experience was well worth the drive out there. We had the 8-course tasting menu and it was an excellent meal all round - the modern European cooking with inventive African-influenced twists, the classic dining atmosphere in an airy space, and the understated, professional yet friendly service. We knew we were in for a treat from the very beginning when they served us the freshly baked bread in a nest with the "balsamic" infused butter. The 8-course tasting menu with wine pairing came out to ~$100 per head which is a fraction of the cost for a similar-quality meal in New York City.
Go a bit earlier than your reservation so that you have some time to roam around the beautiful grounds of The Cellars-Hohenort. After doing that ourselves, we hope to stay there on our next Cape Town trip!
Babylonstoren Farm Hotel
There was no better word than "heavenly" to describe Babylonstoren. We spent two nights there but wished we could have spent an entire week. The staff at Babylonstoren had a great passion for what they do and it showed in all the little details. We loved our elegantly designed cottage. It has all the modern comforts one can expect from a luxury hotel, but was not over the top. The old charm and simplicity of the farmhouse was well preserved.
Food at the on-premise restaurant, Babel, was excellent. Everything was so freshly and creatively prepared that we had one of our favorite meals of all time (Yes, we thought it was that good). We also enjoyed many of the activities on premise: farm & garden walk, garden fruit picking, wine tasting and winery tour, etc. We highly recommend the farm & garden walk. It's early in the morning (8am) but you probably won't have public visitors during that hour (... the farm is also open to non-hotel guests). We ended up being the only guests on the walk and really enjoyed the morning serenity with our awesome guide, Jerome. He even made us a beautiful bouquet from the wild flowers picked on the walk. (Yes, you are allowed to pick full-bloomed flowers and ripe fruits on the property.) We also went for a little harvest in the garden one evening. We ended up sending these fruits to the kitchen but guests are welcome to eat anything they harvest.
Babylonstoren is a good base to explore wineries and restaurants nearby (and the cute Franschhoek town center as well). The hotel helped us rent a car (dropped off at the hotel and picked up from the hotel when we left). The area was very safe to drive around on our own. Just remember that South Africans drive on the left side of the road!
Book spa appointments in advance at Babylonstoren. It was fully booked when we tried to get one after our arrival.
Babylonstoren Farm & Garden Tour
We enjoyed many of the activities on premise: farm & garden walk, garden fruit picking, wine tasting and winery tour, etc. We highly recommend the farm & garden walk. It's early in the morning (8am) but you probably won't have public visitors during that hour (... the farm is also open to non-hotel guests). We ended up being the only guests on the walk and really enjoyed the morning serenity with our awesome guide, Jerome. He even made us a beautiful bouquet from the wild flowers picked on the walk. (Yes, you are allowed to pick full-bloomed flowers and ripe fruits on the property.)
We also went for a little harvest in the garden one evening. We ended up sending these fruits to the kitchen but guests are welcome to eat anything they harvest.
Delaire Graff Lodges And Spa
Perched on the slopes of the magnificent Stellenbosch mountains, Delaire Graff offers a sweeping view across the estate’s vineyards. Each lodge has its own private heated plunge pool, an idyllic setting for relaxing and indulging. No details were spared to create the ultimate feeling of a luxury escape. It was a perfect place to spend our last day on the honeymoon and get pampered before we set out on the long journey back.
For such a luxury boutique hotel, we found that the treatments at Delaire Graff Spa were very reasonably priced (the weak South African currency, Rand, helped). So don't forget to book yourself some pampering sessions or even a Half-Day/Full-Day Ritual.