By Rhiannon Taylor, June 2017
It's hard not to be excited about the newly opened Jackalope Hotel; Victoria has very little in the way of stand-out accommodation. A bizarre fact, considering Melbourne is a hub for the design and architecture community in Australia and it's hot dining scene recently hosted the World's Best 50 Restaurants.
Despite Jackalope only being open for 6 weeks at the time of our visit, it's already scooped up awards left, right and centre. So, what is it about Jackalope? Quite simply it bucks the trend of knitted blankets and shabby chic furniture that is typical to most regional Victorian accommodation. Jackalope is the personal project of 29 year old owner Louis Li, who engaged architectural powerhouse Carr Design Group to create a property that is bold in its surroundings and highly contemporary.
Upon arriving, Jackalope's long, black structure looks more akin to a winery warehouse than a luxury hotel, however it eloquently attaches to an original brick building that holds Rare Hare, the cellar door and casual eatery. Here you can book in for a tasting, sampling the the wines from on-site labels Willow Creek and Rare Hare before dining in a laid-back space with unobstructed views of the vineyard. A sharing menu focuses on local produce of the season such as wintery roasted pumpkin and slow braised beef cheek. It's rustic, simple and done well.
Check in at Jackalope is welcoming and with only 46 rooms, there's no hustle or need for a lobby. Rather bags are left with the staff at front desk, who have been expertly recruited from far and wife by general manager Tracy Atherton (ex AMAN and Hotel Hotel), and you're seated in the bar Flaggerdoot for a welcome drink. The bar, helmed by expert mixologists, has an impressive cocktail list that reflects hot trends one would expect in undergrounds in New York or London like gin with capsicum and passionfruit (it just works).
The theme to the hotel is black and gold and the rooms come with brass accented beds and rich black chairs, courtesy of Melbourne furniture maker Zuster. Deep balconies provide sweeping views of the vineyards and double vanities, rainshowers and Japanese bath tubs are the epitome of luxury. Black hooded robes stay true to Jackalope's sexy vibe and bath products are provided by Melbourne's Hunter Lab. The mini bar is included, with the exception of wine and the compendium is beautifully presented on digital tablet and has a great movie library.
Downstairs is Jackalope's fine dining restaurant Doot Doot Doot which also serves up an artisan breakfast included for all guests. Asian influences feature throughout such as black rice porridge and lobster and shitake eggs. They're indulgent and expertly cooked, served under an opulent chandelier consisting of 10,000 light globes.
With an infinity pool, spa treatments available and installations of commissioned art, Jackalope is more than just a winery hotel. It's meets the void of an experiential lodge that Victoria has so desperately needed.
THE TURN DOWN
ACCOMODATION CATEGORY: Luxury hotel.
ROOMS: All rooms come with king beds, Hunter Lab body products and balconies either terrace facing or vineyard facing.
ROOM PICK: Splurge for one of the "lairs" - the penthouse equivalent with 85sqm of living, bed and bathroom space. It's gobsmacking.
MINI BAR: Complimentary excluding wine. However, there is no food provided other than some black "m&m's" and considering you're in a regional location its very hard to fulfill those afternoon munchies - we would have liked a few snacks.
POOL/GYM/SPA: There is an infinity pool on site and spa on-site. Massages are also available in your room.
RESTAURANT/BAR: Breakfast is included for all guests in Doot Doot Doot, which is also open for dinner 7 nights a week and lunch on weekend. Rare Hare is open for lunch Monday - Thursday and dinner Friday - Sunday.
CHILDREN: Not recommended, this is for adults.
WIFI: Included and works really well. Be warned there is little cell-phone reception.
RATES: Starting at $650 AUD p/n.
GOOD TO KNOW: Take notes as to where the light switches are in the rooms. It can be very difficult to figure out.
TURN DOWN SERVICE: Yes.
FEEL: Slick and sexy.
LOCATION: Mornington Peninsula, about a 1 hour drive from Melbourne CBD.
I stayed courtesy of Jackalope Hotels.