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Buying Silence: A New Wave of Quiet Spaces Enters Shanghai

The rise of the study room, and where to find them.
2019-11-18 10:43:40
Finding a second of silence can be hard in Shanghai. Especially when you want to study or read. The libraries are always full. Most seats are occupied by a stack of books or a backpack, holding their master’s spot. Cafes are noisy, cramped and generally don’t have bathrooms. And forget about the co-working spaces: they are expensive and as noisy as street-cafes.

But there is a solution: “study” rooms, a relatively new invention in Shanghai. For as low as 10 rmb per hour, they promise you sweet solitude, a wi-fi connection and a bathroom. We checked out three, which we strongly recommend.

Popularized a couple years ago in smaller Chinese cities, “study” rooms were inspired by Korean urban soap operas. They’ve only seem to hit Shanghai this year, but can now be found in most parts of downtown Shanghai. They are similar to co-working spaces but cheaper and quieter.

Zhongxue Space


Zhongxue Space is one of the bigger chains. Their Xuhui location is just across the street from Jiaotong University, close to the Xujiahui subway station. The space is not big, but definitely not cramped. The public seating area is breezy, especially when they have all the windows open – you get a nice view looking down from the 19th floor at the city.

Zhongxue Space has three quiet study rooms that are sub-divided into individual cubicles, like the ones you typically see in offices. One is a bright room with natural daylight; the other two are dark rooms with closed curtains to simulate evening.

The first hour here is a trial, and free. After that, it’s a 500 rmb deposit, which they deduct from at the rate of 11rmb per hour. The staff can print grayscale images (you bring a USB) for 0.5 rmb per page.

You can walk-in but during weekends, reservations are essential.

Time Flies


Time Flies Study Room also has multiple locations around town. Their Hanzhong Lu location is inside an older office building, just across from the subway station. Like Zhongxue Space, there’s a public area with big tables and airy windows, spotlessly clean and opened towards the city skyline. Apart from a bright room and a dark room, they also have a small discussion room just big enough for two to sit, where talking is allowed. This might be good for language lessons.

Each area charges differently. For one-time drop-ins, the public area is 15 rmb/hour, the quiet rooms are 18 rmb/hour, and the discussion room is 30 rmb/hour. They also offer printing service for 0.5rmb per page in grayscale, with your own USB.

They have a host of different packages. Just a few: a day-pass is 78 rmb or 156 rmb per day for discussion rooms; or for 500 rmb you get 50 hours inside.

Reservations suggested. When I went on a weekday around 10am, there were already four people inside studying.

Time Flies Study Room has another location on Siping Lu that’s open 24 hours, if you’re really burning the midnight oil.

Prac Space


Prac Space, another popular chain, is a hybrid: they are using co-working spaces, and selling the vacant hours at the spaces hour-by-hour. Clever.

Their biggest location is at Xujiahui, a collaboration with co-working brand Nash Space.

A spacious three-story building, the place is clean and organized, with all the amenities you would expect from a typical co-working space. Sitting inside is comfortable and relaxed, perhaps too much, and there is even a patio on the rooftop. It’s doubtful how this set-up will help with your attention span.

Drop-in rate is 15rmb per hour, and an unlimited day-pass is 88rmb. For this fee you are allowed to use all the public areas inside and the quiet study room on the third floor. You can drop-in at anytime, instead of purchasing a mobile desk at a monthly rate.

Its Huaihai Lu location, which is a collaboration with niche co-working brand Paper, charges slightly more at 20rmb per hour and there is no day-pass available. You can only enter after 6pm during weekdays and 9am-10pm during weekends. It is the same with its other location at People’s Square.

Other Chains

Apart from the bigger chains, there are other smaller places around town, like Bookhon on Changshou Lu, StudyWithMe on Shangcheng Lu, or SHIKE on Hankou Lu. Planto Study Center , a Korean-owned study room, is another good place to go if you live in Gubei or Hongqiao.

They are all quite similar, and you won’t stumble into any surprises – essentially, it depends on which place is the most convenient and requires less commute.

Ground rules for all the study rooms:

You can only talk in public areas or discussion rooms, not at your desk inside the quite rooms.

No computers are allowed in the dark rooms, unless your mouse and keyboard do not produce any sound at all.

You are only allowed to eat in designated areas.

Got it? Happy concentrating!