For many travellers, it’s not just the room that makes a hotel special – it’s the dining options, too. Stay at an artful vineyard retreat, relax in a grand winery homestead or unwind at a sleek property amid a thriving restaurant scene. Here are three extraordinary hotels where food and wine are the highlight.
Extraordinary ingredients: Jackalope Hotel, Mornington Peninsula, Vic
From the seven-metre-tall sculpture of its mythical rabbit-like namesake at the hotel’s entrance to the collection of eclectic furniture adorning its public areas, Jackalope is a five-star flight of fancy. But the local-produce focus of its two acclaimed restaurants keeps the Mornington Peninsula’s most avant-garde address firmly tethered to its location.
Whether taking a seat beneath an astonishing 10,000-globe lighting installation at marquee fine-diner Doot Doot Doot for a chef’s-hat-worthy dégustation or in rustic-chic winery bistro Rare Hare, with its peaceful vineyard views, you can expect an indelible taste of the region.
It might come in the form of a refined wallaby bolognese with preserved local tomatoes and goat’s feta, a rugged ragù celebrating wild mushrooms foraged on neighbouring farms by Rare Hare head chef Toby Marks or Jerusalem artichokes from the enormous kitchen garden dressed to impress with black garlic and truffle balsamic. This is a place that delivers all the ingredients for the perfect indulgent escape.
Richly textured rooms and suites are the ideal setting to practise the art of doing nothing, while the spa nestled in its own architecturally arresting space is just the place to recalibrate body and soul.
And over at the cellar door, a guided tasting of Willow Creek estate’s celebrated cool-climate chardonnay and pinot noir – a pure single-vineyard expression of place – is just the thing to keep your boots on the ground and your head in the clouds.
Extraordinary wine: The Louise, Barossa Valley, SA
Will it be the sparkling vermentino or the Eden Valley riesling? A newfangled nero d’avola or just a classic full-bodied shiraz? You can imbibe the Barossa without stepping outside its most exclusive address. The wine list at The Louise is an epic read – all 26 pages of it – that delivers the depth and breadth of one of Australia’s leading wine regions and then broadens its horizons across the globe to deliver an oenophile’s version of heaven.
And then there’s Appellation, the lauded restaurant showcasing local growers through a fine-dining prism. (Pro tip: put yourself in the hands of the sommelier to match the perfect Barossa wine to each course.)
A modern sandstone-and-limestone homestead featuring just 15 architecturally magnificent suites, The Louise is a bit like staying at the country house of rich friends who’ve gone away and left you their keys (and staff). From the infinity lap pool to the sundowner-worthy terrace the views of surrounding vines sing of Barossa terroir. And if a weekend of fine food and wine sounds like too much of a hard slog, the newly launched Three75 Bar + Kitchen takes the pressure down with cocktails and burgers.
Want to get among the vines? You’re right near some of the region’s best cellar doors, including Seppeltsfield and Hentley Farm, and the staff are well versed in organising bespoke winery tours to suit every whim and palate.
Extraordinary atmosphere: MACq 01, Hobart, Tas
Stay inside a storybook of Tasmanian history, perched on the moody and magnificent Hobart waterfront, once considered the very edge of the world. Distilling the essence of the city into food, drink and design, MACq 01 even names each of its rooms for a figure from the island’s past, be they crooks or captains of industry.
Paid storytellers are on staff to conjure the past on walking tours but the hotel’s award-winning bartenders and chefs tell it just as well. The cocktail list at the aptly named Story Bar is a magnum opus, spinning a tale of Tasmania from then and now in the form of local spirits, including an East Coast Martini made with 666 vodka from Cape Grim, Spring Bay gin and saltbush-infused wine. There’s even a nod to the 1954 royal visit; tasting notes describe it as “light, boozy and floral”.
In the restaurant, comfort food becomes culinary art with input from acclaimed local producers that are namechecked across the menu. Even the in-room minibars are ultra-local, offering Tasmanian Tea Company brews and pre-batched cocktails by Hobart gin-maker Süd Polaire. The city’s heritage is further conjured via some keenly curated design within the cypress-clad walls. Rooms are furnished by artists and artisans to create uniquely Tasmanian spaces, while a nightcap around the lobby’s circular fireplace, sculpted from local river stone, is the perfect epilogue to the day.