M.Ou.Co reinvents the hotel in Porto. Michael Edwards tunes in on the harmony.
Porto is a city of sounds. Boats chugging along the Douro River. Fadistas singing from their soul. Atlantic rollers crashing rhythmically on the city’s sandy beaches. Trams clanking up and down the hills. Buskers’ notes lingering over the cobbles.
Now M.Ou.Co, a hotel open for less than a year, celebrates not just Porto’s music but the music of the world. On the footprint of a former factory, the hotel has a performance hall, a music library and rehearsal rooms.
Guests shall have music wherever they go. Throughout the public areas there is an eclectic playlist. We check in to a soundtrack of seductive saxophone and breakfast to Deep South Blues. Then we have David Bowie and Elton John for melodic company over coffee in the stylish exposed brick bar.
M.Ou.Co has eclectic musical tastes. One of M.Ou.Co’s aims is to be globally inclusive.
Already, there has been a diverse range of performances: classical, children’s music workshops, guitar recitals, jazz, indie and rap. DJ sets in the bar range across music’s octaves too.
Amongst the post-industrial chic sand -coloured raw walls, and above the polished concrete floors, every room is equipped with a record deck.
“Do you know how to use it?” asks the receptionist showing us to our room, unaware that I have been putting vinyl LPs on a deck since before she was born.
Every room is given a starter collection of vinyl. If that’s not enough, guests can take up to five LPs and books out of the music library. Guests also hire guitars and keyboards from reception. If it all sounds atonally, cacophonously deafening, don’t worry. The soundproofing is faultless. It even excludes the early morning screech of Porto’s seagulls.
M.Ou.Co is exceptionally spacious for a hotel. Having the space of a former factory, the rooms are unusually large. Even entry level rooms have a kitchenette featuring a good-sized fridge, two-ring hob and a dining table for two.
A zen-calm garden, it’s sloping pathways leading past a solitary, red-leafed tree, takes guests from a Porto side-street to reception. It is a serene and spacious entrance that surprises guests.
Another welcome surprise, on check-in, is the issue of a smart phone. It is loaded with useful apps giving essential local information, restaurant recommendations and guided walks of varying lengths. With just two taps, it is also possible to ring reception from anywhere in Porto.
Although M.Ou.Co is radical in many ways, the hotel sticks to some traditions. An exposed brick restaurant, lit by a tropical foliage infused light-well, serves superb food.
Porto sits between the Atlantic and fertile North Portugal. A seafood soup of plump clams waiting for a jog of rich broth is typical of M.Ou.Co’s menu. Another starter of goats’ cheese, accompanied by a salad and orange garnish with a fiery pepper sauce, makes the most of very local sourcing.
One of the restaurant’s specialities is octopus given a crisp outer coat with breadcrumbs and served with a rich rice whose moist texture edges towards risotto. The dessert menu features a roasted fig sable simply accompanied by vanilla ice-cream. A classic Portuguese pud that must not be missed.
Although M.Ou.Co has opted for performance area and rehearsal room over gym and spa, there is an outdoor pool, plus sun-loungers, for Porto’s hot summer.
On top of all this, Mo.Ou.Co has location, location and location. Arrive at Porto airport and the metro takes you to Heroismo station, a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel.
Heroismo tube station is on four metro lines giving rapid access down the hill to the banks of the Douro River where the city’s many port houses sit. Alternatively, guests can head west on the metro to Porto’s sandy Atlantic beaches.
M.Ou.Co’s owners hope that their hotel is just the first album and that “music and everything,” as the name suggests, will spread to other cities. But for now, they should be content that M.Ou.Co, legato smooth, is the coolest place to stay in Porto.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT M.Ou.Co, PORTO, PORTUGAL
M.Ou.Co, 1 de Frei Heitor Pinto 65, 4300 – 252 Porto, Portugal
T: +351 227 667 790 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rooms, including breakfast, begin from €78 for a standard double.