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; www.pousadas.pt; doubles from $380.