Travel

Short stay: M.Ou.Co Hotel, Porto, Portugal

The coolest place to stay in Porto. Here the hotel is reinvented as a place to “Stay. Listen. Play.” Throughout the ample public areas music plays.

Listen out for some blues or jazz with breakfast. As you move round the hotel there are classics from The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John and many others. M.Ou.Co. loosely translates as “music and everything” Open for a mere nine months, M.Ou.Co. crosses boundaries and is a revolutionary game-changer. In an industry of rule-takers providing gyms and spas, M.Ou.Co. with a performance centre and rehearsal rooms, is a rule-breaker. Also serving as a theatre foyer, there is a zen-calm to the sloping path garden, with a solitary serene red-leafed tree, leading into reception.

Even though M.Ou.Co. is at the heart of Porto, the hotel has a peaceful location.

The welcome

Guests are sat in comfortable leather chairs for the formalities. They are issued with a smart phone with a two-tap facility for phoning the hotel.

Apps make recommendations for essential facilities, Porto attractions and restaurants. The phone also guides guests around city centre walks.

The room

Converted from a former factory, the rooms are larger than those of the average hotel. Wide beds are mounted on a beech wood dias. Decor is post-industrial with raw sand-coloured walls above the polished concrete flooring.

Occasional art-pieces reference music’s all-time greats. The look blends refurbished industrial and recording studio chic with hints of angular high-ceilinged loft living. Spot lights are distinctly stagey. Kitchenettes, with two-ring hobs and fridge, are provided – even for entry level rooms.

A key differentiator for M.Ou.Co. is the record deck in every room. No surprise that for a music hotel the sound-proofing is impeccable.

The bathroom

Featuring a rain-fall shower and orange verbena toiletries, bathrooms are comfortable and well-equipped.

Facilities

An exposed brick restaurant is lit by a light well housing flourishing cheese plants and cacti. Fine-dining Porto style begins with a pre-starter of a sardine accompanied by breads and a butter topped with salt from a red wine reduction.

Starters reflect Porto’s location between the Atlantic and Portugal’s green north. Succulent clams wait expectantly in a pure white bowl ready to be immersed in a jug of broth. While a goats cheese and orange salad garnish, accompanied by a fiery pepper sauce, comes from the lush pasture of the Douro Valley.

One main dish epitomising the menu is a coating of breadcrumbs giving a crisp outer texture to octopus served with a rich rice. For dessert, a roasted fig sable, simply served with vanilla ice-cream, is a contemporary take on a classic Portuguese pud. Breakfast is also served in the restaurant.

One of M.Ou.Co.’s aims is to be multicultural and inclusive and their extensive breakfast buffet caters for many tastes.

A performance hall has hosted numerous performances. Invites to performers are an eclectic mix including classical recitals, children’s music workshops, indie, rap and rock. DJs regularly play sets in the bar.


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Location

An eight-minute walk from Porto’s main Campanha railway station, M.Ou.Co. is perfectly located for arriving in or departing Porto. The nearest metro station is Heroísmo. Sat on four metro lines it quickly provides access to both the city and the Atlantic beaches.

Music fans will enjoy traditional fado, Portugal’s musical melancholy, at Casa do Mariquinhas. In the shadow of the Romanesque cathedral, this atmospheric house has provided music and authentic Portuguese cuisine for over half-century. TiaTia, a restaurant in the centre of the centre provides an innovative and contemporary take on Portuguese cuisine with its small-plates sociable sharing menu.

Much of Porto’s history is intertwined with the numerous Port houses on the north banks of the River Douro. A visit to Ramos Pinto, combined with a tasting, tells the history of a small port house with artistic and innovative marketing strategies. As the port was produced many miles from Porto, a day out in the Douro valley with Douro First Tours completes the picture.

A visit to the Quinta d’Oreans vineyard begins with a “Portuguese Breakfast” of bread and extra virgin olive oil followed by tastings of wine and port. A tour of the Quinta shows where family and villagers combine every autumn to tread the grapes. A spectacular lunch at 18th century Barros House in Sabrosa is followed by an hour’s river cruise along the River Doura.

The last barrel of port was transported by a Rabelo boat in 1964 but now the boats sail from Pinhao to provide scenic cruises through the vine and olive tree lined valley. Frequently labelled “The world’s most beautiful road” the drive back to Lisbon takes in the N322.

Other nice touches

Guests can borrow up to five books and vinyl LPs from the music room. It’s a relaxing library where guests browse for hours.

Guitars and keyboards are also available for hire which can be used in the music rehearsal rooms.

The cost

From €78 for a standard double including breakfast.

The best bit

Sat on the former footprint of a factory, the hotel’s site has numerous spots for sitting and relaxing to the day’s sound-track. Next to a bar that serves a tempting array of cocktails, drinks and meals, there is a sheltered sun trap-of a courtyard.

By the swimming pool, the sun-loungers are in place.

The final verdict

M.Ou.Co. is a unique concept that is attracting many guests. Some come for the music gigs, others for a fantastic restaurant whilst longer stay guests relax and take in the musical milieu. Watch out, M.Ou.Co. could be starting a whole new trend.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by M.Ou.Co..




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