Melenos Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
An Aegean clifftop aerie secreted out of the way of the day-tripping crowds.
Location A 45-minute drive from Rhodes airport, on a promontory that juts from the eastern side of the island and plunges into the sea. The village is crowned by a world-class Greek-Byzantine medieval acropolis.
Pedigree Michalis Melenos, a native of the town of Lindos, spent nearly 15 years assembling the multilevel property.
Style + Design Created as a village within a village, with stairs and passageways, the 12 white stucco rooms and suites open onto terraces hand-set with pebble mosaics. Local craftsmen carved the wooden doors and sleeping platforms, artfully placed pottery and copper pieces from Greece and Turkey abound, and bathrooms have stone basins for sinks.
Service + Amenities Up-to-date luxury hotel appointments are a given, and should you decide to climb to the acropolis, there are hand-carved walking sticks to borrow. The dining area, outdoors but shaded by latticed vines and fabric tents, makes a fine setting for the hotel’s modern Greek-Mediterranean cuisine.
Needs Work Mattresses on broad platforms enclosed with spindle railings pay homage to Greek tradition and provide sleeping comfort, but crawling in and out of them is better suited to toddlers than adults.
Value for Money Prices are highest in July and August, when prices go up to $470 or more—but if you want to be on Rhodes, the price is fair.
30-22440/32222; www.melenoslindos.com; doubles from $360.
Hospes Palacio del Bailío, Córdoba, Spain
This 16th-century palace is the most dramatic property in the stable of a Spanish haute-design hotel group.
Location Situated on a whitewashed street in Córdoba, the eighth-century seat of the Moorish caliphate, the hotel is a 15-minute walk from the famous Mezquita, or mosque, and has also become an attraction in its own right.
Pedigree Hospes, Spain’s smallest—and hippest—hotel group, has a knack for turning crumbling architectural marvels into pitch-perfect contemporary hotels, with the help of archaeologists and art historians.
Style + Design A fluid melding of modernity and antiquity; sleek hallways are set off by 15th-century doors; public spaces and bedrooms are lit by cutting-edge Italian fixtures from Catellani & Smith. The star is the soaring atrium, which has a restored 19th-century fresco and a glass floor overlooking a Roman-era villa that was discovered beneath the building’s foundations.
Service + Amenities A top-notch multilingual staff, anchored by chef Periko Ortega, who serves Andalusian cuisine, with Arabic influences, in the popular Senzone restaurant; the Bodyna spa incorporates Roman bath-inspired design.
Value for Money Historic atmosphere and of-the-moment amenities, for a few dollars more than other local hotels.
10 Calle Ramírez de las Casas Deza; 34/957-498-993; www.hospes.es; doubles from $295.
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).
Value for Money Impeccable service, a prime location, and the museum-worthy sacristy make this one of the city’s best deals.
Needs Work Convento could be more integrated into the neighborhood. With its imposing walls and guards at the front door, the hotel can feel a bit forbidding to public and guests alike.
1 Rua do Carmo; 55-71/3327-8400; www.pousadas.pt; doubles from $380.