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Hotel da Musica: The Place for the Kosher Traveler in Porto, Portugal

Located right in the heart of Porto, in Boavista, and near the Synagogue Kadoorie Mekor Haim is the four-star Hotel da Musica. A beautiful modern hotel with a strong musical theme, it is much more than a designer hotel, it is like plunging into a symphony of experiences. Hotel da Musica is part of the iconic Mercado Bom Sucesso Market, which is now transformed into a new concept of place with different restaurant and handy if you want a quick snack or pastry or just to sit around with a drink and watch the goings on. It is also very close to one of the popular squares of Oporto, Rotunda da Boavista, where you can find the Casa da Música.

For travelers who keep kosher, Hotel da Musica is really a no-brainer and an excellent choice for accommodations. The hotel offers kosher meals, consisting of Portuguese cuisine and vegetarian meals, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and there is a kosher store connected to the hotel. The staff is kind and helpful in opening room doors for observant guests, for example, on Shabbat. This project is coordinated by the Oporto Rabbi, Daniel Litvak, whose supervision is recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The hotel also has a new kitchen and rigorous training of its employees to welcome Jewish tourists.

Hotel da Musica – New York Jewish Travel Guide

Hotel da Musica is a quaint hotel attracting Jewish tourists from all over the world, including Israel, France, and America. Joao Duarte, Groups & Events Manager of the hotel added : “Our guests are very observant, I would say about 90% of our guests are from Israel, 6% or 7% comes from France and the others… are from all over the world. About 2 or 3% of guests come from the United States, Belgium and South America.”

The concept for the hotel, which is not owned by Jews, came about in response to the current interest in the history of Portugal and its Sephardic Jewish heritage. It is a very charming hotel, whose musical and Jewish themes are discernible by walking through the lobby. It is quite a gem of a hotel catering to the kosher crowd in a city of only 300 Jews.

The meals are tasty and plentiful. In the kosher section of the restaurant, you can see the musical theme on the wall and an inscription on the wall in Hebrew: “”And you shall eat, be satisfied and bless Hashem your Lord.” Joao Duarte, Groups & Events Manager of the hotel, clarified: “We are not a kosher restaurant and we are not officially a kosher hotel, we don’t have kosher breakfast every day. We do have clients who want a kosher breakfast and so we cook it; however, it has to be booked 24 hours in advance. The only thing we cannot do is for Shabbat, which is a little bit harder, as it is precooked; we prepare it during Friday morning and we have the supervisor (mashgiach) from the synagogue stay until the middle of the afternoon and we leave everything turned on a hotplate to make sure it stays warm… everything is pre-cooked. Those are the rules we have to follow from the Rabbi. “

Hotel da Musica – New York Jewish Travel Guide

The Kosher Corner, a project of the Hotel da Musica, is located in the Mercado Bom Sucesso. The store is the first with kosher products in the country, both for guests and the general public. Created in partnership with the Jewish Community of Porto, the store aims to familiarize the general population with kosher products but mainly to assist kosher visitors. The Porto Kosher Store is under the supervision of Rabbi Daniel Litvak, Rav of the Mekor Chaim Synagogue of Porto, and is closed on Shabbat.

The Kosher Store – New York Jewish Travel Guide

When I visited the store, I was a surprised, however, by the lack of variety in products; apparently, a slew of visitors and tourists had depleted most of their stock a few days earlier. Joao Duarte, Groups & Events Manager of the hotel explained: “It is not huge selection, because we mainly want to have things that the clients can be able to use during their stay. For example, we have cookies, pita bread,  matzos, noodles, peanuts and olives, tahini, tuna, kosher wine, water and treats, chocolate, cereal bars – mainly those things that the clients can buy to be able to use while they stay here mainly.” He added that “Many new items are on order and planning to expand their product line in the near future.” Many cities charge exorbitant prices for kosher products because of the difficulty of importing these products and also because of the small size of the market. As he explained  “The pricing is really high and that is because getting these products here mainly issues due the transportation system” On the positive side, he added on the future plans “we are working on a “grab and go” concept where we make a lunch box so the tourists can take their lunch with them while they are touring so they don’t have to come back to the hotel to eat. Porto is still growing in terms of tourism.”

Kosher Breakfast – Hotel da Musica- New York Jewish Travel Guide

The hotel rooms are clean, spacious and has everything travelers need, including tea or coffee, a fridge, hair dryer, toiletries and plenty of fresh towels. The staff is extremely helpful and the location is excellent, a half-hour walk from most attractions. There is a bus terminal across the street, and the Metro station is a five-minute walk.  I simply loved this hotel as I had a wonderful experience. I would definitely recommend it and stay here again on my next visit.

Two recent guests also shared their positive experiences with NYJTG: Ofer and Iris from Israel visited Porto for the first time for a 10-day vacation. Said Ofer, “This hotel is amazing, clean, and the staff always greets you with a smile and are always ready to help.” Iris added: “We are pleased to have a tour guide in Hebrew to  explore this beautiful city and especially Portugal’s Jewish heritage.”

Ofer and Iris guests at the Hotel da Musica – New York Jewish Travel Guide

For more information:

To plan a trip to Portugal, contact Visit Portugal or log on to:

https://www.visitportugal.com/en

Story & photography by Meyer Harroch – New York Jewish Travel Guide & New York Jewish Guide.com

The author took part in a press trip sponsored by Visit Portugal.

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