Mornington Peninsula’s masterful Jackalope

A place to “Escape from Reality” – or so this Mornington Peninsula restaurant, vineyard and hotel promises.

Jackalope is the $40 million creation of 29-year-old entrepreneur Louis Li and at only a few weeks old, it was named the nation’s best hotel.

With Jackalope now edging closer to its first birthday, let’s discover what all the fuss is about.

The venue’s namesake – a mythical rabbit-like creature with antlers – greets guests on arrival as a 7-metre-tall sculpture designed by Melbourne artist Emily Floyd. It’s immediately clear that nothing at this hotel is going to be ordinary.

The design concept, executed by Carr Design Group through the interiors and Fabio Ongarato Design through the brand, revolves around the idea of alchemy: “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination”.

This is seen in the way the two buildings that make up Jackalope have been melded together. The existing 18th century Federation cottage was restored and then starkly contrasted by the addition of the modernist, metal-clad new main building and the black 30-metre infinity pool.

Inside, the interiors are mystical, deep and wholly luxurious and the storytelling element is cleverly woven throughout. Take your pick from staying in a ‘Den’ or a ‘Lair’, and then dine at ‘Flaggerdoot’ (the collective noun for a group of jackalopes), ‘Doot Doot Doot’ (the leader of a flaggerdoot) or ‘Rare Hare’.

The exploration of alchemy is also seen in Doot Doot Doot’s dining room, where you can bask below the glowing amber lightbulb installation by Jan Flook, made from a mighty 10,000 globes and designed to depict the fermentation of the vineyard’s grapes.

The hotel revolves around collaborations, with the likes of HUNTER LAB custom-designing guest toiletries, including a pinot grape soak and scrub made from the vineyard’s own grapes; Happy Melon for yoga and meditation retreats; and Melbourne designer and manufacturer Zuster for dramatic, handcrafted furniture pieces. 

So go on and take a look at the unforgettable Jackalope and see if you agree with me that this hotel really is a stroke of genius…

Images via Jackalope by Sharyn Cairns.

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