Nestled in the heart of Porto’s vibrant Boavista district, mere steps from the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, you’ll find the distinguished Hotel da Musica. This contemporary gem transcends the ordinary designer hotel experience; it envelops you in a harmonious symphony of unique moments. Hotel da Musica enjoys a special bond with the iconic Mercado Bom Sucesso Market, where culinary delights and cultural activities await your exploration. Furthermore, it’s conveniently situated near the bustling Rotunda da Boavista square, home to the renowned Casa da Música.
For discerning travelers who adhere to kosher dietary practices, Hotel da Musica stands out as an exceptional choice for accommodation. The hotel proudly offers kosher meals, encompassing both Portuguese cuisine and delectable vegetarian options, available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Moreover, a dedicated kosher store is seamlessly connected to the hotel, ensuring easy access to kosher products. The attentive staff goes the extra mile to accommodate observant guests, such as by assisting with room access on Shabbat. This initiative is overseen by Oporto Rabbi Daniel Litvak, whose supervision is officially recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The hotel also boasts a state-of-the-art kitchen and provides rigorous training to its staff to warmly welcome Jewish tourists.
Hotel da Musica is a charming establishment that magnetizes Jewish tourists from around the globe, spanning Israel, France, and the United States. According to Joao Duarte, the Groups & Events Manager at the hotel, a significant majority of their guests, approximately 90%, hail from Israel, with another 6% to 7% arriving from France, while the remaining 2% to 3% originate from the United States, Belgium, and South America.
The hotel’s unique concept was conceived in response to the growing fascination with Portugal’s rich history and its Sephardic Jewish heritage. As guests traverse the lobby, they encounter an atmosphere that skillfully harmonizes elements of music and Jewish heritage, as demonstrated by the prominent display of Israeli flags and an array of lively musical instruments. It stands as a true gem of a hotel, offering a haven for the kosher-conscious in a city with a Jewish community numbering just 300 individuals.
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.” Duarte told NYJTG, “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 must be booked 24 hours in advance.” For Shabbat, everything is pre-cooked and under the guidance of a kosher supervisor (mashgiach).
The Kosher Corner, under the guidance of Hotel da Musica, finds its home within the Mercado Bom Sucesso. Remarkably, it stands as the country’s pioneering store, offering a comprehensive range of kosher products and catering not only to hotel guests but also to the wider public. Established through a collaborative effort with the Jewish Community of Porto, the store’s primary objective is to introduce the general population to kosher items, with a special emphasis on aiding kosher-observant visitors.
The Porto Kosher Store operates under the vigilant supervision of Rabbi Daniel Litvak, who serves as the Rav of the Mekor Chaim Synagogue of Porto. It’s important to note that the store observes Shabbat by remaining closed on that day.
During my visit to the store, I was somewhat surprised to find a limited product selection due to a recent surge in visitors and tourists, which had depleted their inventory just a few days earlier. Duarte acknowledged that while the store’s variety isn’t extensive, it does focus on practical items that tourists can make use of during their stay. These items include cookies, pita bread, matzah, noodles, peanuts, olives, tahini, tuna, kosher wine, chocolate, and cereal bars. He also mentioned that they have many new items on order and have plans to expand their product line soon. Duarte also pointed out the challenges of importing high-cost kosher products from other cities but highlighted a positive development: they are working on a “grab and go” concept, allowing tourists to conveniently take their meals while touring, reducing the need to return to the hotel for dining. He also noted that Porto’s tourism scene is continually growing.
The hotel rooms themselves offer a clean and spacious environment, equipped with all the essentials a traveler might need, including tea or coffee facilities, a refrigerator, a hairdryer, toiletries, and an ample supply of fresh towels. The staff is exceptionally helpful, and the hotel’s location is superb, with most attractions within a half-hour walk. Additionally, a bus terminal is conveniently located across the street, and a Metro station is just a five-minute walk away. My personal experience at this hotel was nothing short of delightful, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I would certainly choose to stay here again on my next visit.
Two recent guests, Ofer and Iris, an Israeli couple who embarked on a 10-day vacation to Porto, also enthusiastically shared their positive experiences with NYJTG. Ofer was effusive in his praise, remarking, “This hotel is truly incredible; it’s impeccably clean, and the staff always welcomes you with a warm smile, ever eager to assist.” Iris chimed in, saying, “We’re delighted to have a Hebrew-speaking tour guide to discover the charms of this magnificent city, with a special focus on Portugal’s rich Jewish heritage.”
To plan a trip to Portugal, contact Visit Portugal or log on to:
For hotel reservations, go to https://www.hoteldamusica.com/pt-pt/.
Story and photography by Meyer Harroch, New York Jewish Travel Guide, and New York Jewish Guide.
The author took part in a press trip sponsored by Visit Portugal.