Vietnamese youths siesta at cafés with beds

By Quynh Nguyen, Minh Tam   March 10, 2023 | 05:15 am PT
Vietnamese youths siesta at cafés with beds
A college student tries out a café with beds in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District in order to relax and study in the afternoon on Feb. 28, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Nguyen
Phuong Linh, a sophomore at the Hanoi University of Economics, made her first visit to one of the capital's new café-in-bed shops.

At these novel coffee shops, coffee and other drinks can be served to you in your own private pod with bed, which you’re encouraged to nap in

At the "bed coffee" shop in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, Linh slept in her pod for an hour during her lunch break. When she awoke feeling refreshed, she took her textbooks to the café’s communal area and joined a group of students immersed in studying there.

"Contrary to our expectations of noisy, busy cafes, the atmosphere here is relatively quiet and emphasizes privacy," said Linh, who had tried the new café concept with a friend.

At the café with beds in Cau Giay District, customers are charged VND65,000 (US$2.7) for a drink plus one-hour use of a private single-bed room. After one hour, customers can extend their stay or simply move out into the shared area that looks like any typical coffee shop.

To Linh, the price is not expensive considering that she can both relax and study, the beds are especially spacious, and every pod is equipped with good lighting, an electrical fan, a small desk, a mattress and pillows.

Occupying a pod next to Linh’s, Hai Dang, also a sophomore from Hanoi Trade Union University, is a frequent patron of this café in Cau Giay. Whenever he has classes all day, and during finals at a semester’s end, Dang visits the café at lunch to study and, more importantly, to relax.

"The price here is cheaper than a hostel’s, and the place is clean and just a 7-minute drive from my school," said 22 year-old Dang.

The coffee & beds model, which was first developed in Japan and South Korea to cater to customers who want to take a break from a busy workday, started making its way to Vietnam several years ago.

Young people relax at a café with beds in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District at noon on March 1, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tam

Young people relax at a café with beds in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District at noon on March 1, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tam

Concentrated in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, these cafes attract mostly young students and office employees who need a quiet place to study or take naps. These venues are often busy on weekends, between noon and early afternoon, or in the evenings.

According to various shop owners, first-time customers end up returning 70-80% of the time.

According to Dieu Linh, a representative from the coffee-in-bed venue in Cau Giay District, her café first opened last October, has 5 floors and 10 spacious pods, which were inspired by South Korean "gosiwon" or matchbox-styled hostels.

The pods are well furnished, and all bedding sets are replaced anew every day. Depending on service levels, prices range from VND65,000 to 150,000 ($6.3).

While relatively new in Hanoi, the concept has been popular in HCMC for a while. The first entrepreneurs to introduce the coffee-in-bed model to the southern metropolis in 2018 were Soh Saito from Japan and his Vietnamese wife, Nguyen Thuy Duong.

At that time, the couple found that young people in Vietnam lacked private space to take naps and relax.

According to Duong, in the beginning, customers tried the services out of curiosity. But after the Covid-19 pandemic, she said many started to pay more attention to their health, increasingly seeking out their shops to take naps as well as heal and recharge their minds.

For the past 4 years, Duong and her husband’s chain has sprawled out into 7 branches across HCMC, with 40,000 customers registering as members.

Nguyen Mai Anh, a 21-year-old student from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, frequently visits a café with beds near her school in Binh Thanh District at noon to take a nap.

Nguyen Mai Anh often visits this coffee & bed shop in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District 3 to 4 times a week. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tam

Nguyen Mai Anh often visits this coffee & bed shop in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District 3 to 4 times a week. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tam

Mai Anh said having a nap at noon relieves stress in her body and her mind becomes more alert. In the past, she used to idle her lunch away at a convenience store to wait for classes in the afternoon.

Another frequent customer of the Binh Thanh District café, Pham Trung Nghia, a 27-year-old office employee, also finds that a half-an-hour nap at noon in a cozy, fragrant and quiet place leaves him feeling refreshed for the rest of the day.

Nghia said when he first tried the café, he felt hesitant when he noticed a camera watching over him in bed. "But after the staff explained the purpose of installing cameras, I felt it was quite a good idea to ensure proper behavior," he said.

At cafes with beds, cameras are installed in private rooms for security purposes and to discourage sexual behavior for a healthy atmosphere all customers to enjoy.

Besides singles, many couples have also tried these cafes.

On February 28, Quoc Hung from Hanoi’s Gia Lam District also visited the venue in Cau Giay to meet his girlfriend, a senior college student.

The couple looked for some private place to talk. "We’re only here to relax and won’t do anything improper so we don’t feel bothered by the camera," said the 27-year-old customer. Hung found the services interesting and said he would return.

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