Awarded: Hotel of the Year; New Hotel of the Year and Regional Hotel of the Year in Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2017.
Jackalope is located in Merricks North, just an hour out of Melbourne, in the heartland of world-renowned wine regions, farmland, rolling hills and one of Victoria’s most famous coastlines - there really isn't anything else quite like it along the Mornington Peninsula.
I started following the development of Jackalope over a year ago, months before its official opening, because I was captivated by the artistic direction. Owner Louis Li has collaborated with some of Australia’s most creative influencers to bring to life a style that is bold, modern and luxurious: a confident juxtaposition to the surrounding country landscape. This is a truly unique concept for regional Victoria - to have a luxury hotel with fine dining, casual dining, a vineyard, cellar door, day spa, cocktail bar and art installations on such a grand scale.
The hotel experience is chic. The hallway is flooded with neon lights, and the rooms have floor to ceiling windows that look out to sweeping views of the infinity pool and vineyard. The decor is modern and luxurious with custom mosaics, bronze and copper finishes, and Japanese bathtubs. Plus, if you're lucky enough to check in to one of their signature suites, you'll experience a double sided indoor/outdoor fireplace, cocktail bar and a personal wine cellar.
However, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to absorb the Jackalope experience: a few sub-urbanites spent an indulgent afternoon there a couple of weeks ago. Greeted at the end of the driveway by the enormous Jackalope sculpture, we made our way to the bar at the cellar door, where we sampled wines from the surrounding vineyards and some from their very own grapes at Willow Creek.
After we'd decided which wines to order with our lunch, we headed to Rare Hare Wine and Food store - the more casual restaurant in the establishment. The dining room is spacious and full of light, with breathtaking views of the Willow Creek vineyard. The menu is seasonal and ingredients are sourced from local farms. We opted for the set menu - our food was delicate and fresh, bursting with crisp, fresh flavours, and generously portioned. The various sharing platters included salumi, sardines on toast, harissa carrots and tender beef flank - and for something sweet at the end, a milk chocolate brown butter tart. A la carte menu options are available for smaller groups. Making the most of the lovely sunny afternoon, we continued our post-lunch wine tasting outside on the terrace. It really doesn’t get much better than this - until we were told at 5pm that the wine store was closing. However, it was not home time yet...
With a seamless transition to Flaggerdoot, the cocktail lounge situated in the original Edwardian McCormick House, we continued our fun by progressing from wine to spirits. With the drinks menu focusing on experimental spirits and some classics, the bar staff worked their magic and pumped out an array of cocktails. It is here that the edgy installations are displayed: a one-off electric blue pool table, and open fires in the winter.
If you're here for dinner, the hatted restaurant Doot Doot Doot offers a five-course tasting menu in their dining room, which is home to a 10,000 lamp chandelier lighting installation. With a garden to plate philosophy, it’s an experience that's sure to be memorable.
Jackalope is the talk of the town - it’s new, bold, creative and an experience like no other. A must visit this summer!
Check the website for opening hours. www.jackalopehotels.com
HOW TO GET THERE:
Visiting the Mornington Peninsula has never been easier - visit www.winecompass.com.au to organise a tailored wine tour including transfers for your private group.