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Hotel Review: M.Ou.Co, Porto in Portugal

LLM explores Porto’s latest hotel offering a completely unique experience that focuses on music.

By LLM Reporters  |  March 14, 2022
Porto hotel mouco

Words by Peter da Silva

Porto is already famous for its UNESCO historic centre and the vast beautiful river Douro which runs all the way from the Atlantic into Spain. Along the way, Porto’s most famous export, Port wine is produced throughout the Douro Valley, but Portugal’s second largest city, Porto has much more to offer beyond fortified wine. This is a city full of creatives and the perfect place for a short break.

Hotel

A former warehouse, M.Ou.Co. is, today, a new contemporary space in Bonfim, a neighbourhood which is now the must-visit and must-live part of central Porto. Following a meticulous redevelopment, this entire area of 5,000 square metres of building has been transformed into a welcoming, modern space filled with light. The building features natural materials throughout including the exterior and no paint has been used. You feel instantly at home as there is no clutter anywhere and you can see the garden and terrace and the blue sky from every floor to ceiling window.

M.Ou.Co. is within walking distance of Porto’s historic centre and the Douro River. Porto’s historic centre and the Luís I Bridge (Ponte Luís I), alongside the monastery of Serra do Pilar, have been classified World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, since 1996. This is a city to explore on foot, but pack flat shoes!

As soon as you enter M.Ou.Co. things feel laid-back and almost like a members’ club but without any of the pretentious attitude. Music is at the heart of everything here and from the minute you check in you are welcomed with music, a reception desk with a backdrop of vinyl covers for guests to pick their own five vinyls to take to their rooms with the option to take musical instruments, too.

This is an independent destination which combines a 62-bedroom hotel, 50-seater restaurant, bar, garden with alfresco dining, outdoor swimming pool, music library and a concert hall with a capacity of 180 seated and 300 standing guests. The agenda of forthcoming artists is diverse, and you are guaranteed an intimate experience with all the latest technology.

Room

Of the 62 bedrooms, 41 have a kitchenette ideal for that extra coffee during the day or even meal preparation. The rooms are spacious and are all named after songs including ‘Vamos Fugir’ and ‘Voyage Voyage’. Ground floor rooms lead on to small private gardens with access to the outdoor swimming pool.

We stayed in one of the suites ‘Porto Sentido’ which is a duplex featuring a fully equipped large kitchen and dining area and its own balcony with large wooden exterior window blind doors. Furniture is all vintage and it is either original vintage and restored or has been designed in Portugal to reflect the vintage look in general. There are rugs, leather armchairs, a guitar on the wall and bespoke music art is also present in each room. In this case one piece of art, created by artist Xan Xan. M.Ou.Co. works with an atelier in Porto called COISA to produce each piece and they are available to buy from reception.

The interior is minimalist with exposed walls and no paint anywhere, there are around three colours in the room making it feel airy, clean and minimalist. Air conditioning, heating and Wi-Fi are also available, and everything is new and immaculate. The bathroom is spacious and feels luxurious with minimal items and fluffy towels.

Where the hotel bedrooms stand out and what makes them totally unique is their approach to music. Music and entertainment are key elements of all bedrooms, and you can’t miss this when you first enter the room. All include a professional sound bar system, sound amplifier with headphones, Chromecast, a USP charger and GuestU Phone.

By request, a complimentary turntable, guitar and keyboard can all be hired from reception to be used in the bedrooms accompanied by headphones. These can all be plugged into the sound bar system for in-room personal entertainment. Sound proofing is excellent obviously and you can dip in and out of music as much as you like. The vinyls added a cosy feel to the atmosphere over red wine in the evening which can be ordered over room service.

Food and drink

M.Ou.Co is open throughout the day to both hotel guests and locals meaning there are many options for meals. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner are all available as well as alfresco drinks which can be enjoyed outside including by the swimming pool.

Lunch is super good value, the menu changes on a weekly basis and is priced 16€ for three courses and coffee and features the option of two starters, three mains and two desserts.

The restaurant has large windows and follows the minimalistic style of the rest of the hotel with tables spaced fantastically. Tables are wooden with no tablecloth and the high ceiling makes this a real find.

An all-day snack menu, served in the bar or restaurant, features the local Porto sandwich ‘Francesinha’ made with veal fillet steak, ham, smoked sausage covered with cheese and a spicy sauce. This is a filling dish and even though it is described as a sandwich, it is a full meal. For something lighter, the fried cuttlefish in a wasabi tempura with rustic potatoes and a sauce is an option. There are six vegetarian dishes, which include a spinach risotto with parmesan cheese. From March, a new dinner menu will launch which will also include vegetarian and vegan options.

You’ll discover the bar is busy throughout the day with guests and locals making the most of the coffee house vibe. They even roast their own blend of coffee here along with several others, so it is safe to say coffee is taken seriously. A cocktail menu and drinks menu is strong with various choices including a wide selection of Portuguese wines.

With sunshine a present fixture in Porto, the alfresco spots are ideal throughout the day and for sunset where you can relax in various corners of M.Ou.Co. without being bothered and simply enjoy a drink or on warmer days take a dip in the hotel’s guest only swimming pool. If you are here on Saturdays, then sit back and enjoy the live DJ.

Music Library / Concert Hall

The Music Library is all about musical pleasure and that sensation and excitement of adding a vinyl to the turntable. As you enter the room there is a very relaxed ambiance with exposed walls with wooden shelves filled with books and vinyls. Here, guests will encounter a collection of 600 records which is growing, we were told.

The catalogue has been curated by a number of artists with links to the music and the city. M.Ou.Co. also work with Porto’s record shops to keep the collection busy with classics, discoveries and latest popular releases. The Music Library also features a wide selection of specialist music books celebrating music, songwriters, composers and performers. The large leather chairs are ideal to relax in as you plan what to listen to next.

What you may not expect is that underneath all this is a beautifully designed concert hall with all the facilities for artists including luxury changing rooms and a bar. The venue has a diverse programme of music concerts featuring both Portuguese and international musicians. Previous concerts have included Portuguese band CLÃ and Scott Matthews and future concerts include Douglas Dare on 18th March, National of Language, the New York band on 6th May, Adam Green on 10th May and Dean Wareham on 9th July amongst many others due to be announced. Concerts are open to all who purchase tickets and there is a dedicated entrance to the hall. A real treat is to stay at the hotel and attend a concert before heading to your bedroom to crash with the sound of your own vinyl.

There is no spa or gym but for musicians, M.Ou.Co have devised unique ‘Music and Health’ programmes. Fora Vezzá is a physiotherapist specialising in ergonomics and she has devised a portfolio all about integrating health into instrumentalist training. Musicians can visit the ‘Performance Clinic’ where the musician can bring their instrument and receive an analysis and plan of action.

In a nutshell

M.Ou.Co. was set up by three friends, Ramon Rodriguez, Mickael Petit and Sofia Miró, all Porto residents and all with a passion for music and the arts. Teresa Martins joined ahead of the opening and is the M.Ou.Co. hotel and restaurant general manager. They run a unique hotel and venue where the motto is Stay. Listen. Play. This doesn’t feel forced, and everything feels genuine and well thought out.

The hotel stands out in the city as there is no place like it. You are treated like a friend from the minute you arrive and are invited to enjoy the home-from-home atmosphere as you head to your bedroom with your favourite vinyls in your hands.

Factbox

Rooms are priced from 79€ and suites up to 550€ per night.

Porto Airport is about a 25-minute drive or 40 minutes by metro. Less than a five-minute walk to Heroismo metro station or Campanhã train station with direct trains to Lisbon.

Address: Rua de Frei Heitor Pinto, 67, 4300-081, Porto, Portugal
Phone: +351227 667 790
Website: moucohotel.pt

Imagery by Luis Ferraz