Kairouan, Tunisia: Hammam, pastries and luxury from $50 a night
Kairouan, about two-and-a-half hours by car from Tunis, is filled with character: It's the fourth holiest site in Islam, deriving its status from a spring said to have waters flowing directly from Mecca. The town offers plenty of opportunities for strolling, shopping (head to the ancient medina for rugs) and soaking up history, but isn't such a hotspot that you'd be missing out if you decided, once or twice, not to venture outside the walls of your hotel.
We mean that literally: The sprawling Kasbah is nestled within a fortress abutting the medina. Old on the outside, it's pure boutique within, with all the little and not-so-little luxuries of a five-star property, like multiple pools and and an intricately mosaic'ed hammam. Around each corner, through the next stone archway is yet another atmospheric nook for lounging. We recommend the Turkish café for whiling away an afternoon sipping mint tea and nibbling honey-soaked pastries.
And rooms start at an almost-unbelievable $50 US a night per person (including breakfast) in the low season, which just began on March 1 and runs through the end of June. With savings like these, you could afford a lot of pastries. Or rugs.