The chemistry’s just right at Jackalope – analchemist of a hotel which delights in the blending the strange with the surreal. Even its name, riffs on the theme of fusion: referring to a mythical, made-up creature with the face of a jackrabbit and the horns of an antelope. Indeed, everything at this Mornington Peninsula address shouldn’t work but does: from its fiercely modern, jet-black exterior, set amid bucolic vines; to its contrasting art-filled public spaces and minimalist, colour-sapped rooms. Two farm-to-fork restaurants proffer peninsula food and a club-like bar stands in an old Edwardian homestead. Whatever the formula, they’ve got it just right.
11am. Check-in: 3pm. Both are flexible and the hotel offers luggage storage and access to hotel facilities on request.
Double rooms from $424.85 (AU$614), excluding tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include an à la carte breakfast in Doot Doot Doot. There’s milk from Melbourne’s Saint David micro-dairy, brews from Mornington’s Commonfolk Coffee Company, and dishes such as spanner-crab omelette and black-rice porridge on the menu.
Jackalope hosts regular wine events to highlight its Willow Creek Vineyard, including multi-course wine dinners paired with special vintages and terrace tastings to showcase very limited ‘museum wines’.
The hotel opens year round.
At the hotel
Spa treatments, custom-designed furniture, one-off art, vineyards, free WiFi. In rooms: a free minibar, Zuster furniture, flatscreen TV, Samsung tablet, Bose speakers, Japanese bath tub, Hunter LAB toiletries, robes.
Our favourite rooms
Colour-sapped walls, polished concrete and minimal furnishings pervade throughout the restrained rooms, but we love the Vineyard rooms for their contrasting, green views over the surrounding Willow Creek Vineyard – especially good at sunset, with a glass of pinot noir in hand. Upgrade to champagne by choosing the Lair rooms, with their penthouse-like dimensions, private terrace, indoor-outdoor fireplace and six-seater dining table. There’s even a personal wine cellar, so your glass will never run dry.
Overlooking the Mornington Peninsula’s vine-tangled countryside, the 30m infinity pool stands on a raised deck, surrounded by jet-black parasols and ashen sunbeds. At one end, an angular, zinc-clad building rises like a fragment of volcanic rock. Appropriately named the Geode, it’s used for private events and spa treatments.
A compact treatment menu at the Geode includes pregnancy massages and Jackalope’s signature oil-based massage, which blends Swedish and deep-tissue techniques. Plant-based Edible Beauty Australia products, featuring botanicals and wildflowers from Australia’s remote hinterland, are used in facials.
Stand-out against the monochrome backdrop in a red, ruffle dress by Australian clothing brand C/MEO Collective and pattern-free Her Line swimsuits for the pool. For men, bring pared-back Feit accessories and an electric bottle-opener to enhance the oenological experience.
Custom-made Hunter LAB toiletries, from Melbourne’s natural skincare brand, use crushed grape skins from the hotel’s Willow Creek Vineyard, which are recycled and reused after the wine has been made.
Jackalope is best suited to adults. However, all ages are welcome. In Doot Doot Doot, there’s a kids’ dégustation menu (with matching juices) and high chairs. In Rare Hare, colouring books are provided. Extra cots can be added to rooms on request.
Grab one of the jet-black, high-back sofas at Doot Doot Doot and a window seat for vineyard views at Rare Hare.
Looking for an opportunity to dress up? You can do so at Doot Doot Doot. Go for a full-length, crushed-velvet Winona dress by Australian designer Isabelle Quinn or a jacquard blazer from Calibre for men. At Rare Hare, smart-casual is fine.
The first thing that strikes you about the Doot Doot Doot restaurant is the 10,000-lamp chandelier, created byMelbourne-based light designer Jan Flook to resemble wine bubbles during the fermentation process. Like all the artworks at Jackalope, it’s a striking feat that draws the eye. But that’s before chef Guy Stanaway has clicked his fingers in your direction with a five-course set menu, highlighting the region’s artisans and producers: from beef with black sesame to lamb sweetbreads with shiitake mushrooms. For a more relaxed bite, head to Rare Hare – a ‘wine and food store’, which serves rustic shared platescooked in a wood-fired oven. Views of the vine-clad countryside are as impressive as the menu: chargrilled squid with romesco sauce, venison with kohlrabi remoulade and market fish with smoked mussel butter.
Encased within a 19th-century Edwardian homestead at the end of Jackalope’s drive, you’ll find the seriously cool, club-like Flaggerdoot bar. Stylish strip-lighting runs along the ceiling, illuminating an otherwise all-black space of inky walls and ashen floors. Gold-clad Leather Works chairs by Edra are as mad-cap as Andrew Hazewinkel’s surreal, faceless head sculptures, which stare out into the darkness. A marble bar, lined with round-bottom chemistry flasks, lines up to offer a 30-strong list of speciality cocktails. Try the Butter Bee with lavender, honey and brown-butter gin, or the Dirty Matador with guava, chipotle and tequila. There’s a choice selection of chardonnay and pinot noir wines from the surrounding Willow Creek estate and a long list of botanical gins, whiskies and unusual spirits. Work your way through the list, but grab a bite to eat first: try the truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, or maybe a salumi selection.
The main Doot Doot Doot restaurant serves breakfast from 7am-11am; lunch noon-3pm; dinner 6pm-9pm. Rare Hare is open for a leisurely lunch (11am-5pm) and dinner (5pm-9pm; Friday-Sunday only). Flaggerdoot bar serves from 11am-midnight.
An extensive in-room menu of cheese and salumi plates, pasta, fish, steak, burgers, club sandwiches and salads is available from 11am-11pm, with a reduced selection between 11pm-7am.
An hour’s drive south of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula kicks out from shoreline of Victoria, enticing weary city dwellers for weekend breaks with its mix of farm-fresh produce, relaxing spas, art galleries and wineries.
The nearest international hub is Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, a 90-minute drive away. A second option awaits at Tyabb Airport, a 20-minute drive away, which serves as a base for helicopter transfers; the hotel can arrange transfers for guests.
From Melbourne’s Flinders Street Railway Station, Metro Trains run services to Frankston Railway at the north end of the Mornington Peninsula, from where you can catch onwards Metro Bus services to destinations further south.
You can rent wheels from Melbourne city centre or on the peninsula itself – Mornington has several outposts. Once at the hotel, there’s free valet parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
Melbourne’s weekend playground entices city types with its soothing mix of wine bars and spas. The peninsula’s laidback, left-field vibe also means art galleries abound: try the Nook, in one of Mornington’s converted factories or the artist-led Cook Street Collective in Flinders. Jackalope’s location on a vineyard also hints at another local obsession: wine. Over 50 cellar doors populate the surrounding hillsides, with Crittenden Estate, Tuck’s Ridge and Montalto among the nearby favourites. There are gardens to explore at Ashcombe Maze, fine beaches along Port Phillip Bay and some of Australia’s best links courses at Mornington Golf Course, The Dunesand Portsea. But don’t leave without taking a dip in the area’s natural hot springs: Peninsula Hot Springs is one of the best.
The abundance of farms and vineyards on the Mornington Peninsula means there’s a rich harvest of places to eat and drink. In the Red Hill wine-making region, Polperro Bistro sits in a 25-acre plot, shaded by myrtle trees. Grab a spot on the wooden deck to make the most of the vineyard views and opt for refreshing dishes of Pink Lady apple with wood-sorrel granita or King George whiting with orange sabayon. Also worth visiting are the three nearby vineyards, collectively known as Ten Minutes by Tractor. Chef Stuart Bell works the kitchen, mixing heirloom vegetables, foraged herbs and edible flowers with mains of whole-roasted Tasmanian quail and beetroot gnocchi. If you can’t decide, the eight-course dégustation menu does the job for you. For a taste of something different, French restaurant Le Bouchon offers a prix-fixe lunch and dinner menu, of seared scallops with pea purée, duck casserole and more, all washed down with the same impressive wine list from France and the surrounding terroir.
With so many tasting rooms, it's best to refine your palette by rigorously mapping your route or organising a tour. One the best pit-stops is Port Phillip Estate, which has a cellar door, fine-dining restaurant and wine list that highlights the region’s prized pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. Like Jackalope, its modern architecture is worth the visit alone. Another laidback place is Foxeys Hangout, which has a deck and sloped lawn, where crowds gather for single-vineyard pinot noirs, estate wines and sparkling varieties – you can even make your own. At Green Olive, they serve a broad range of grape blends by the glass (or bottle), paired with a farm-style tapas of braised-lamb tacos, pumpkin bruschetta and beetroot dip. For an Italian take on the region’s eating and drinking traditions, T’Gallant specialises in pinot gris and pinot grigio grapes, along with spuntino (sharing plates) and wood-fired pizza.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from Jackalope hotel on the Mornington Peninsula and uncorked their single-vineyard pinot noir, a full account of their Australian break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Jackalope hotel in Australia…
A three-tier, neon-lit sign marks your arrival at Jac-Kal-Ope. Conceived by Melbourne-based Fabio Ongarato design studio, it’s just the start of an impressive roll-call of collaborations with Australian artists. From Andrew Hazewinkel’s faceless head sculptures to fashion designer Rick Owens’ antler-topped Stag Bench, this is a hotel that wears its art on its sleeve. Melbourne’s Carr Design Studio is behind the zinc-clad, inky-black exterior, which cuts a dramatic figure against the rolling vines of the Mornington Peninsula – Melbourne’s go-to wine-making region. Another key piece, which serves as a centrepiece to the eccentric Flaggerdoot bar, is Rolf Sachs’ illuminated chemistry set, which touches on the hotel’s central theme of alchemy. Even the name, Jackalope nods to a mythical creature – half-jackrabbit, half-antelope – which merges two incongruous elements. But there’s substance behind the style, too: muted grey-and-white rooms provide a serene space to sleep, and two restaurants, Doot Doot Doot and Rare Hare, offer contemporary interpretations on the region’s farm-to-fork cuisine. The sleepy Mornington Peninsula will never be the same again.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Jackalope’s Guestbook below.
The staff! Team Tracy Atherton are the most welcoming and wonderfully experienced in their domain. From exotically named areas to eccentric dishes this hotel has it covered. Nothing is too much trouble, and they make this journey the quintessential example of no worries in an upmarket form in a global oasis location (Mornington Peninsula. This is what dreams, not nightmares, are made of).
Kids mid week. Also, don't expect bad service, a cold slimy pool, poor music taste, rude staff, run of the mill menus, or 'stuff you' bar staff.
Stayed on 8 Oct 2019
The food is excellent and the room ammenities are first class. Also, the staff were friendly, efficient and yet unassuming when they were not required.
Don't expect the weather to always be great on the Mornington Peninsula.
Stayed on 23 Sep 2019
Immaculate in every way – the staff were the highlight.
Stayed on 18 Jun 2019
The design of the building and general atmosphere of relaxation. The staff were also fantastic.
Quiet by the pool, generally always some drunk people in the hot tub!
Stayed on 28 Dec 2018
The funky vibe; the degustation dinner at doot doot doot with unexpected/brilliant wine pairings; perfect (in our view) location, snugly within the quieter, more discreet southeast flank of the Peninsula, very close to great food and wine, yet also within driving distance of more populated spots; warm, lovely service.
A sense that you are the only guests in a secluded hideaway. The property is buzzy throughout the day and evening. The rooms are in a two-storey building, laid out in a straight line on both sides of a somewhat utilitarian corridor. Definitely no private nooks and crannies here. Secure a vineyard-facing room at all costs; the euphemistically-named 'terrace' rooms look out onto the car park.
Stayed on 27 Apr 2018
The service was excellent. Every single person was super professional yet friendly and polished. The rooms overlooking the pool vines are the ones to go for. Loved the art installations in forms of furniture sculpture. Relaxed environment and unhurried.
Flashy surroundings. It's laid-back but elegant and classy.