Greg Fleming checks in to Mornington Peninsula's award-winning, boutique hotel Jackalope.
About an hour and a half's drive south of Melbourne. The 45-room Jackalope is named after a mythical creature — part antelope, part jack rabbit — envisioned in black by the imposing Emily Floyd sculpture at the entrance. It combines cutting-edge design (the antelope side) with a sexy sense of fun (cue the jack rabbit).
Jackalope only opened in April but has already won this year's Gourmet Traveller Australian Hotel of the Year. Its young designer, Louis Li, has described the hotel as "an interplay between the ideal and the surreal" all set on a stunning 11ha site.
And that's as good a description as any. Get ready for faceless sculptures, neon-lit corridors, edgy furniture art pieces (oh and there's a gold spade in the garden); all reflecting the hotel's theme of alchemy.
Facilities: Probably easier to list what this hotel hasn't got — no gym — but who needs a gym when you have all this space? It does have a private vineyard, a working winery, two restaurants (the high-end Doot Doot Doot and the more casual Rare Hare overseen by Kiwi executive chef Guy Stanaway), a yoga lawn, conference facilities, vege garden, infinity pool with a spa plunge pool, small spa, and the futuristic Flaggerdoot bar, complete with pool table and a cool cocktail menu.
Dining: Doot Doot Doot is no ordinary restaurant hotel — I had one of the best meals in a long time here, elegant without being over-fussy; and when they say garden-to-table they mean it. The vege garden is 40m away. I didn't get a chance to try Rare Hare.
Breakfasts: From 7am in Doot Doot Doot — a small menu — try the grapes and tomato on toast with ricotta — but off-menu selections are accommodated. Great coffee, by local roastery Commonfolk.
The room: A vineyard room on the second floor — with a massive deep-soak bath.
Opposite that a spacious rain shower, and large vanity. Bathroom fixtures are finished in bronze or copper. King bed with a bedside android tablet. All movies are free and a great selection.
Toiletries: Hunter Lab — Melbourne made.
Views: My terrace room had a view across the vineyard and pool. Sunsets were stunning and the remote location ensures both privacy and quiet.
Price: Rooms start at around $750 midweek.
Verdict: A truly unique five-star hotel with a sense of larrikin fun that's sure to impress even the most jaded traveller.