“M.Ou.Co? It roughly translates as music and everything,” the receptionist tells us. Then, she equips us with a smart phone for our stay in Portugal’s beautiful second city. It features apps giving us walks round the city, attractions to see and restaurant recommendations. Importantly, there is a facility to ring reception, from anywhere in Porto, with just two taps.
Some hotels have a gym and spa treatment rooms. M.Ou.Co has a performance hall and music rehearsal rooms. M.Ou.Co aims to be inclusive, welcoming to an eclectic selection of musicians. Already musicians from classical through jazz to Indie have performed at M.Ou.Co.
Though M.Ou.Co knows which traditions are worth preserving. There is a much-appreciated outdoor swimming pool surrounded by sun-loungers. And the bar, next to a sheltered suntrap of courtyard, begins the day with coffee and finishes with beer, cocktails, sangria and wine.
A music library marks M.Ou.Co out as different. Although the hotel is less than a year old, the collection of music books is growing. Once you’ve picked out a book of Nick Kent’s writings, the New Musical Express’ biting critic of the 1970s, or seen John Peel’s autobiography or a book on The Beatles, the library’s pull becomes irresistible.
Guests can take out up to five books and records from that library. Every room features a record deck for playing LPs. As M.Ou.Co is a former factory those rooms are spacious and have a kitchenette. With guitars and keyboards available from reception the rooms are exceptionally well-soundproofed too.
Music plays throughout the hotel’s stylish public areas. In the exposed brick restaurant, lit by a light well of tropical foliage, blues and jazz accompany the extensive buffet breakfast. Menus introduce guests to the best of Portuguese cuisine with a light take on traditional favourites. Locals have already worked out that the restaurant is a winner.
Porto is blessed with a coastline for landing cod, prawns, sea bass and a whole wealth of seafood. Meanwhile, Portugal’s greener north provides fresh fruit and veg that also star on the menu. Then there are the wines from the Douro Valley …
Of course, Porto is famed for port. There are numerous port houses located in Vila Nova de Gaia, the city on the south bank of the River Douro. Consistent riverside humidity and a cooler location made Vila Nova de Gaia the place to store countless barrels of port during the hot summers. Some of the barrels, made of French oak, are over 300 years old. Coopers visit regularly for barrel maintenance.
Ramos Pinto is the port house to visit, renowned for its controversial and arty approach to marketing, dating back to the 1880s. Founding the house when he was just 21, Adriano Ramos Pinto was ahead of his time. Using his training as an artist he designed different adverts for the catholic and protestant export markets. His advert of a naked Adam and Eve, tempted by Ramos Pinto port, prompted both discussion and sales. A reputation for quality makes for an enjoyable post-tour tasting of white, tawny and ruby ports.
A boat-trip, under six bridges, is another essential Porto experience to tick off. Boats pass under the much-photographed Luis 1 Bridge. Rising 45 metres above the river, the double-deck metal arch of 172 metres was constructed in the 1880s.
Fado, Portugal’s melodic and melancholic music, has become part of the country’s culture. Since 1968, a fado show at the intimate Casa da Mariquinhas has presented moving music and great food.
Male and female vocalists, accompanied by acoustic guitars, take it in turn to sing of life’s struggles. They express the honour of human dignity in the face of adversity. A three course dinner alternates with 20-minute music sets – and the pouring of wine – throughout the evening.
M.Ou.Co is ideally located. It is 500 metres walk from Porto’s Campanha railway line with direct trains to and from Lisbon. An even shorter walk takes guests to Heroismo, a metro station sat on four underground lines. M.Ou.Co is ideally placed for exploring both the city and the beaches to the west on the Atlantic coast.
M.Ou.Co fact file
For accommodation visit M.Ou.Co.pt
Learn more about a fado dinner at Casada Marinquinhas.pt
Book a port tour at Ramos Pinto.pt
Plan your trip with at Visit Portugal
If you enjoyed M.Ou.Co. – the ideal base for a melodic tour of captivating Porto, you’ll find more European city break reviews on our Travel channel.Tags: Casa da Mariquinhas, M.Ou.Co, Porto, Ramos Pinto, Vila Nova de Gaia Last modified: April 11, 2022