A Stylish Stay: Jackalope Hotel, Victoria
Not one for flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to travel, nailing the perfect weekender is something I’ve boiled down to a fairly defined formula, an alchemy of sorts. How could you possibly contemplate to ‘go with the flow’ when you have a mere two days to hurry up and relax?
One should not muck about when it comes to the serious business of escapism. For me, the perfect prescription looks something like this: Not too far to commute, though not too close that city lights will screw up your stargazing… peaceful enough to offer solace, but not so quiet that you’re saying ‘nigh nigh’ at 8pm… a truly local foodie experience, but not without optional fine dining… I could go on, and yes perhaps I am a little fussy - but don’t be fooled by this scientific precision; I’m actually a self-proclaimed genius at maximizing the amount of pleasure one can derive from a 48 hour getaway.
Case in point this recent venture beyond the outskirts of Melbourne to hunt down the mysterious Jackalope. With the city firmly in our rearview mirror, it’s a speedy hour’s drive from the south of Melbourne (proximity to city – tick). On a well-planned girls weekend away one does not stop for air and time seemingly evaporates just as suburbia gives way to rolling green hills and voila – we’ve landed squarely in wine country.
Piercing the green serenity stands The Jackalope, a mysterious entity which from the low-lying black clad exterior looks part fairytale creature, part rustic cellar door and part uber modern Australian boutique hotel.
Entering through the sleek lobby, you’ll note that it’s also part gallery and nightclub. Sleek, angular and moody interiors contrast heavily to the outer surrounds, with pops of neon courtesy of the lighting installation through the corridors providing the only source of light by day. It’s as intriguing as it is bamboozling. And it’s this contrast which Jackalope plays up so well – tantalizing the palette and the eyes at every turn as they play light against dark, soft against sharp, modern against classic.
Check in with the well informed and super chic staff is breezy and within minutes we’re whisked past the hotel’s on site hatted restaurant Doot Doot Doot (another tick – fine dining ON SITE!), and into our Vineyard Room for the weekend. Upon entering you’re immediately drawn beyond the floor to ceiling glass doors and out to the balcony, hypnotized by the limitless surrounds. The chilled bottle of sparkling on arrival doesn’t go astray, and clinking glasses we finally let silence prevail; all the while internally praising myself for succeeding on all weekender checklist points thus far.
Having finally peeled ourselves from the landscape views, we step back inside to take in the space. The rooms are just as you would and wouldn’t expect. As sleek and well appointed as a modern design hotel could be (though sadly lacking USB ports! Fussy, fussy, I know), but strangely dark and moody which feels the antithesis of light filled Australian hotel styling, yet it only serves to frame the lush surrounds even further. The bathroom by way of an internal glass-box is tiled to perfection and perfectly appointed, though you best throw modesty to the side as privacy takes a secondary position to style.
Champagnes downed yet still a little parched, we don the provided black robes and hit the black tiled pool and spa outside, inserting ourselves into this impossibly beautiful scene. Poolside drinks on order, the spa at perfect brain soothing temperature and we lose the next few hours til dinnertime soaking away the week. Wait – did someone say dinner? Champagne fuzz quickly gives way to famished hanger, and we change up for dinner at Rare Hare, the restaurant at the cellar next door, Willow Creek Wines. It’s everything farm to table should be – fresh, vibrant & rustic (and with endless wine options) and hits all the right notes for a late night supper. Well fed, well relaxed and well… a little bit drunk, we roll into bed and let the comatosing room work its magic.
The hotel’s location smack bang in the bosom of Balnarring and Red Hill provided no end of day trips, seaside walks, eating excursions and wine tasting opportunities – of which we did none. Seems the mysterious Jackalope provided all we could need for me to hit every point of the essential weekender agenda without stepping foot off the property. The fine dining experience at Doot Doot Doot was a delight, matched only in excellence by the distance from the dinner table to my room (all of 15 meters?!). A second night rolling in a tad sauced, and a second morning waking up in a womb like state in our meditatively darkened abode.
Call it genius, or perhaps just common sense, I can safely say The Jackalope has nailed the idyllic weekender formula in spades. We’ve rendered ourselves completely relaxed, with a full 48 hours of pure indulgence leaving us wanting nothing more than to return and do it all again.
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