haidilao is a chinese hot pot chain

People in China Are Spending the Night at Haidilao Hot Pot Restaurants

Some folks in China are crashing at 24-hour Haidilao restaurants when in a pinch, earning the chain praise online and resulting in comparisons to a youth hostel

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8:43 AM HKT, Mon March 27, 2023 2 mins read

Earlier this month, a college student went viral on the Chinese internet for detailing her experience staying overnight at a Haidilao restaurant in Guangzhou after missing a connecting leg of her trip. Some outlets of the popular hot pot chain are open 24 hours a day.

“I found a Haidilao by the train station,” she wrote in a now-deleted Xiaohongshu post, which has been documented in a video that is now circulating on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo. “I was afraid to go in at first because many people were eating. But then the [hostess] who greeted me at the door brought me a fruit plate and started chatting with me.”

a makeshift bed in a haidilao

Other stories of young people staying overnight in Haidilao locations have also been posted online

According to the screenshot shown in the video, the young woman then asked the hostess if she could rest for a bit inside the restaurant. The hostess agreed and even set her up in one of the restaurant’s private rooms with a grouping of chairs for her to sleep on.

“At that time, I was about to cry,” reads the screenshot. “Haidilao really warmed my heart.”

The video also quoted a Haidilao customer service representative who said they had not been notified at any point that Haidilao could provide accommodation but that if anyone needed help, they could contact the restaurant manager.

A blanket and pillow in a Haidilao booth. Image via Xiaohongshu

Another makeshift bed, this time in a Haidilao booth

Despite the restaurant’s official response, netizens have uncovered other stories of young people staying overnight in Haidilao locations across the country, and some are posting about their own experiences.

In a Xiaohongshu post from March 6, one man wrote, “Because I have to leave the city very early the next day, I chose to stay the night in a Haidilao. Even though the workers had to tidy up at night, they went out of their way to make less noise so that I could rest. Thank you to the Haidilao workers.”

haidilao hot pot

Another woman sleeps at Haidilao after a solo meal. “The waiter even brought me a doll to keep me company,” she writes in her Xiaohongshu post

In the Weibo video mentioned above, it’s made to seem that some netizens are unsupportive of sleeping in a restaurant for free and instead calling on young would-be lodgers to go to a youth hostel for the night. But upon reading the online conversation, at least on Weibo and Xiaohongshu, it seems there are very few detractors.

“Netizens from all walks of life have expressed their understanding of this behavior, and not many people have questioned it,” one Weibo user observed, before adding hyperbolically, “There is reason to suspect that the media deliberately planted [this critique] to provoke a war.”

Many, too, have come to the young lodgers’ support under the Weibo hashtag ‘Haidilao responds to female college student staying overnight’ (#海底捞回应女大学生在包间留宿#), which has more than 440 million views.

Another Weibo blogger wrote, “Haidilao’s kind deed can attract more customers, and secondly, it reduced the financial burden on the young woman while ensuring her safety.”

Others compared sleeping at Haidilao to people staying overnight in fast food restaurants, a common occurrence around train stations, and, as CNN reported in 2018, for homeless people in Hong Kong.

One person wrote, “In my memory, around 2006, many McDonald’s and KFC [locations] were open 24 hours, especially near train stations. People would often stay overnight in these restaurants without spending money, and the restaurants wouldn’t kick people out.”

Cover image via VCG; other images via Xiaohongshu

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