The world's best new hotels

Hundreds of hotels open their doors each year, but how many open your eyes? Travel Leisure's Guide to the best new hotels showcases the newcomers that are redefining service and design -- and even the way we travel.

Convento do Carmo, Salvador, Brazil
Convento do Carmo, Salvador, Brazil
Finally, Brazil's most vibrant city has a luxury hotel with character to match.

Location: In a former convent that dates back to 1586, in the cobblestoned Pelourinho district--the heart of Salvador's Old Town.

Pedigree: This is the first Brazilian property from Pousadas de Portugal, a network of some 40 Portuguese inns, many of them historic landmarks updated with contemporary touches.

Style Design: A striking blend of the colonial and digital ages. Just beyond the convent's whitewashed stone walls, tranquility awaits. Graceful cloisters are atwitter with birds. Pitched-beam ceilings and 19th-c entury antiques evoke Salvador's past--punctuated by accents of brushed steel.

Service Amenities: The front-desk staff and concierges are fluent in English--a rarity in Salvador. A small spa offers an impressive range of treatments. And the central courtyard, with its lovely stone fountain transformed into a wading pool, is an ideal place to relax over a caipirinha with lime and maracujá (passion fruit).

Rooms to Book: Since the convent's loftlike second story was divided into two levels (resulting in a third floor of rooms reachable via a dramatically cantilevered walkway), some units feel a bit cramped--better to reserve one of the harbor-facing rooms, which retain their original soaring ceilings. No. 238, flooded with sunlight and awash in colonial character, has polished plank floors, ornate handcrafted rugs, and a refreshingly contemporary bathroom.

1 Rua do Carmo; 55-71/3327-8400;; doubles from $380.

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