A new generation of affordable, design-minded hotels is cropping up in this ancient city.

Credit: Courtesy of Epoque Hotels

Hidden down a quiet alleyway in the clubby Sanlitun neighborhood, Hotel G (doubles from $160) mixes Hollywood glamour and Art Deco touches: in the 110 plum-hued rooms, sexy black-and-white photographs hang on concrete walls stenciled with damask motifs (request a room on the ninth floor for sweeping skyline views). Nearby, architect Kengo Kuma has made a striking statement at Opposite House (doubles from $285), an emerald cube of a hotel that has an avant-garde sculpture gallery and 99 minimalist rooms with deep wooden soaking tubs. A short stroll from the Forbidden City, the Emperor (doubles from $118) is a contemporary homage to its 600-year-old neighbor. Designs on the suede walls and etched-glass bathrooms echo the sloped-roof silhouettes of the Imperial Palace, and the rooftop Yin bar has impressive views of the royal grounds. Welcome to China’s new design dynasty.