Dracula’s castle will have overnight guests on Halloween, the first time since 1948 anyone has slept in the Transylvanian fortress.
The site’s actual name is Bran Castle and two people will get to sleep there on October 31 thanks to a promotion by Airbnb.
The guests will be wined and dined, then left alone to lie down in red velvet-trimmed coffins just as Dracula did in the Bram Stoker horror novel that popularised the legend.
The castle is famous for its connection to Vlad the Impaler, a real-life prince who stayed there in the 15th century and had a cruel habit of using stakes to impale his victims. Vlad inspired Stoker’s story of Count Dracula.
The contest to find guests for the night was launched on Monday.
Applicants are being asked to use their “vampiric wit” to imagine what they’d say to Count Dracula if they met.
Winners will be flown to Romania and then taken to the castle set dramatically in the Carpathian Mountains. If they’re too spooked to sleep in the coffins, beds are on hand.
The castle is one of Romania’s top tourist attractions, with more than 630,000 visitors a year. Hosting the one-off Airbnb event is a descendant of Bram Stoker, Dacre Stoker.
“I want to make it both realistic and show the legend in the wonderful country that birthed the whole thing,” Stoker said in a telephone interview.
He’ll play the role of Jonathan Harker, a character from the novel who encounters Dracula at the castle. When the winners arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, he plans to greet them using the same words Dracula used in his ancestor’s story: “Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!”
Stoker added that staging “Halloween night in Dracula castle” was a way of “re-creating the book and giving people a good experience and a good scare.”
The winning pair will tour the castle, then be treated to a candlelight dinner of chicken paprikash, the same meal described in the novel.
The rules for the night are simple: no garlic or silver jewellery – both believed to ward off vampires – and this reminder: “The count is not a fan of mirror selfies.”
Bran Castle was originally a military fortress, strategically set on a highway that links Transylvania to southern Romania.
Vlad the Impaler did not own the castle but is believed to have used it briefly during his incursions in Transylvania.
– Alison Mutler