In the Syrian city of Damascus, "make a beeline for the appropriately named Old City, a lattice of shady lanes resonant with history - this is, after all, the oldest city on Earth," advises Keith. "The focal Umayyad Mosque is one of the finest buildings in the Islamic world, with a magnitude to match. Get lost in the surrounding souk - don't worry, you almost certainly will, somewhere amongst the donkey carts, the shwarma stalls and the traders selling carpets, spices and myriad other exotic trinkets."
Doubles at the Al Mamlouka hotel cost from around £75 (00 963 11 543 0445; www.almamlouka.com). BMIflies to Damascus (0870 607 0555; www.flybmi.com)