As Airbnb horror stories go, this one may take the coffin: Enjoy two days and one terrifying, possibly abbreviated night in Dracula's castle.
Leave the silver jewelry at home, and the garlic. Don't even think of bringing anything in the shape of a cross to Transylvania. Towels are included, though.
The great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, who penned the famous “Dracula” novel, will play host, but guests are welcome to get their blood pumping by touring the castle's 57 rooms before dinner on Halloween night.
Horrors may await. Organizers have hinted at an appearance by Count Dracula himself. At some point, there will probably be an awkward conversation about an untimely death by exsanguination. Also, the 14th-century castle doesn't have WiFi.
The night is part of a Halloween-themed contest for Airbnb. You can enter until Oct. 26 by going to the contest website and writing an “artistic and creative story” about what you would say to Count Dracula if you saw him in his castle. You know, just in case.
“Following the hearty, blood-enriching meal, guests will be left to sleep in luxurious velvet-trimmed coffins in the seclusion of the Count’s crypt,” the site says.
The two winners will be the first people in nearly 70 years to sleep in the castle, which is more Romanian museum than cozy bed-and-breakfast. The site will fly winners to Romania and deliver them to Bran Castle in a horse-drawn carriage.
“I want to make it both realistic and show the legend in the wonderful country that birthed the whole thing,” Dacre Stoker, the host, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. He plans to greet them using the same words Dracula used in Bram Stoker's story: “Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!”
Bran Castle, on a cliff near Brasov, draws nearly half a million visitors every year interested in vampire lore, but its history includes being the occasional home of a real-life prince with a penchant for gruesome murders.
It was built in the 14th century as a fortress to protect against the invading Ottoman Turks. The castle is strategically set on a highway linking Transylvania to southern Romania. It's easy to see approaching enemies from the top perches.
It was briefly the home of the Vlad the Impaler, whose name conveniently includes his favorite way to torture and kill his enemies. He was also known as Vlad Dracula. His biography reads like “Game of Thrones,” but he was never known to drink blood.
According to LiveScience, a sultan invading Vlad's country, Walachia, found the capital deserted except for a gruesome sight: “The rotting remains of Ottoman prisoners of war, each impaled on a spike, were the only soldiers there to greet him.”
Vlad's homicidal cruelty inspired Bram Stoker, who penned “Dracula” in 1897. Stoker never visited the castle in central Romania, but he based Dracula's castle on the fortress.
In “Dracula,” the castle is “on the very edge of a terrific precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.”
The Romanian royal family moved into the castle in the 1920s, living there until the communist regime confiscated it in 1948.
After being restored in the late 1980s and following the end of communist rule in Romania, it gained popularity as a tourist attraction known as “Dracula's castle.”
In May 2006, the castle was returned to Archduke Dominic Habsburg, the son of Princess Ileana of Romania.
Habsburg, a 69-year-old New York architect, pledged to keep it open as a museum, although he offered to sell the castle to local authorities for $80 million in 2006.
There have been no takers, so, like many properties that are hard to sell, the castle found itself on Airbnb.