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饭店 and 餐馆 can both mean restaurant. My Chinese friend here in Dongguan tells me 饭店 is not commonly used to mean hotel. I want to understand in what contexts both of these words are used. 谢谢.

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餐馆 is definitely a restaurant. 饭店 or 酒店 can mean either a hotel or a restaurant, depending on locale. – 杨以轩 May 9 '13 at 9:04
up vote 5 down vote accepted

restaurant - 餐馆,饭馆,小吃店,酒店,饭店,食肆

hotel - 旅馆,旅店,宾馆,酒店,饭店,客栈

酒家 in old days meant restaurant, but nowadays it is almost only used in the names of restaurants or hotels.

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"餐廳" and "菜館" are also quite popular in the south for restaurant. – dda May 10 '13 at 1:34
餐厅/餐廳 has a corresponding word in English, canteen. @dda – Stan May 25 '13 at 19:23
@Stan 餐廳 means "restaurant" not canteen in the south... – dda May 26 '13 at 5:37
@dda: I dig a little deeper and find you are right to some extent. I once thought 餐廳(Cantonese: caan1 teng1, Mandarin: can1 ting1) is the original word of canteen, because they sounds extremely alike. The etymology of canteen shows that it originates from French cantine or Italian cantina or Latin canto, extending to "refreshment room at a military base, school, etc." from 1870---However, many English-Chinese dictionaries shows canteen can be translated into 餐廳 (for a real world example, there's one in my school, CityU Hong Kong :) – Stan May 26 '13 at 6:31
Esp in Canto -- don't forget 茶餐廳 ;-) – dda May 26 '13 at 6:46

The difference between 餐馆 and 饭店 is:

  1. 餐馆 is only meant for a place where you consume certain cuisine, i.e. a restaurant
  2. 饭店 can mean either a restaurant or a hotel, depending on whether the place offer accommodation as part of its business or not.

if you say, "I'm going to xxx 餐馆", people understand that you are going there for a meal only, if no other specific purpose is mentioned.

if you say, "I'm going to xxx 饭店", people may think you're going to eat there (if there's a restaurant at that place) or you're going to stay there for a night (if it's a hotel).

Last but not least, it's more common nowadays in China to say "酒店" instead of "饭店" to name a decent hotel.

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餐馆 and 饭店 differ in terms of formality, with 餐馆 being the more formal. 饭 and 店 are less formal words for "meal," and "store."

饭店 has the connotations of being an (informal) "coffee shop" type eatery. Ironically, it is the one that likely to be connected to a hotel, to which the 饭店 is an "adjunct." A 餐馆 is a "standalone" operation that would NOT be "adjunctive" to a hotel.

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餐馆 is a restaurant. It is usually a small one on the street where you can have an inexpensive lunch or something like that.

饭店, on the other hand, could be either a restaurant or a hotel. And it could be as small as a 餐馆, or it could be as good as a five-star hotel.

I don't think they differ in formality; they refer to different types of restaurants.

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It think both means restaurant. Someone use 饭店 to refer hotel, I think that's not precise and is little bit old school. Use 酒店 if you mean hotel.

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If you work for a 餐馆 and they offer accommodation, it's possible you are going to stay in 餐馆。But in general,餐馆 is a sheer place for people to eat and 饭店 probably combine the staying part and eating part.

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