It is not an exaggeration to say Jackalope has changed the Mornington Peninsula. The cutting-edge, ultra-luxe hotel is what you might expect to find in New York's uber-hip Meatpacking District, not set among rolling hills and gently swaying vines.
Just what is a jackalope? In American folklore, a jackalope is a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. It's usually pictured as a rabbit with antlers, and it has been appearing in American myths and legends for hundreds of years.
The mishmash of seemingly incongruous things in order to create something beautiful, whimsical and a little bit otherworldy is at the heart of everything Jackalope does. The theme of the hotel is alchemy, the process of turning ordinary things into rare and precious things. The most famous examples are lead into gold and the creation of the elixir of life, but Jacklope turns an ordinary hotel experience into something special and extraordinary.
The hotel opened in April 2017 and quickly racked up the accolades, being named Hotel of the Year by Gourmet Traveller magazine in its very first year. It's boutique, with only 45 rooms, which is small enough to make every guest feel special and appreciated. The staff are very attentive, showing you to your room and familiarising you with all the whiz-bang accoutrements and luxurious touches therein. Everything in the mini bar is included in your stay (with the exception of the wine), movies are free on demand, and an iPad is loaded with information about the hotel, a room-service menu, local points of interest and news websites.
Many rooms have as their centrepiece a deep, black stone bath, which staff will draw for you on request (it takes about half an hour to get it to the right level). If you do indulge in a bath, make it extra special with a few spoonfuls of Jackalope's bespoke bath salts, made with grapes from the property.
The hotel's amenities are pretty spectacular, too, with a seven-metre infinity pool and spa overlooking the vines and numerous function spaces. The Geode, a self-contained building next to the spa, hides a pretty cool secret: one half is a poolside bar, which is extremely popular in summer, particularly during summer weddings. The other half is a small massage room, with enough space for two tables and breathtaking views across the hills.
Of course, the hotel has world-class dining facilities to match its stunning accommodation. Its fanciest restaurant is hatted Doot Doot Doot, whose mesmerising ceiling of 10,000 light bulbs gently pulses and bubbles during dinner. Rare Hare is Jackalope's other restaurant, bigger than Doot Doot Doot and slightly less expensive. It has vastly superior views, though; while Doot Doot Doot has gauzy curtains to disguise its carpark outlook, while Rare Hare diners are treated to verdant vistas.
Our tip: even if you don't stay at the hotel, make a night of it at Flaggerdoot, the hotel's alchemy-themed bar. In summer the funky bar with its electric blue pool table is buzzing, while in winter the roaring fires keep everything cosy. Bartenders Tioni Naslund and Nic Train change things up regularly, making sure the menu is always surprising, fresh and exciting. Every cocktail they invent has a story, and this creative pair make perfectly balanced, beautiful drinks to suit all palates.
Cassidy Knowlton stayed as a guest of Jackalope Hotel.