In the distant past, San Blas was a jewel in the crown of the Spanish empire, a colonial port town that was a major stop for the ships bringing hold's-full of gold back to Europe. So though today, it's a sleepy backwater of a town (beloved by birders and surfers) when you stay in this handsomely restored, Spanish/Moorish–style 1883 manor, you'll remember that past. And have a chance to live it, because the hotel has the look of a museum, with an interior courtyard garden surrounded by rooms that have ceilings as tall as the roofs of many of the surrounding buildings. The public rooms and the honeymoon suite all have fine antiques, framed prints and exquisite tiles. While the normal guest rooms are a bit more plain in their decor, they still have a distinctive grandeur thanks to all the open air over your heads. We think staying here is a wonderful experience, though there are some inconveniences you'll have to put up with (like the fact that the Wi–Fi only works in the public areas, not in the rooms and that the staff doesn't speak a word of English). Still, if you want a trip back to a more gracious era, you'll get it at the Hotel Hacienda Flamingo.

-Pauline Frommer