Bran Castle: Dracula's home to be rented out over Halloween

Bran Castle in Romania is to host overnight guests for the first time since 1948 on 31 October

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The Independent Online

Airbnb has announced a competition to win a night’s stay in Bran Castle, the home of Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s famous 1887 gothic vampire novel.

The contest winner and their guest will be invited to spend Halloween night sleeping in adjacent “luxurious, velvet-trimmed coffins" in the Count's crypt.  

The night will be hosted by Bram Stoker's great grandnephew Dacre Stoker. 

Nestled in Romania's Carpathian mountains, on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, Bran Castle is an enormous, medieval fortress. It is believed to have inspired the castle in Stoker’s classic book.

Bran Castle is also associated with Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler, who is believed to be the real-life inspiration for the character of Dracula.

Although he did not own the castle, Vlad is believed to have used it briefly during his incursions in Transylvania. He is also believed to have been trapped in the castle for two months in 1462 when he was captured by a rival Hungarian king.

Originally, the vast building was a military fortress, strategically set on a highway that links Transylvania to southern Romania. 

Following World War I, the building was given to Queen Marie in gratitude for her role in unifying Transylvania with the rest of Romania. She bequeathed it to her youngest daughter Princess Ileana. In 1948, the Communists seized it from Ileana.

In 2006, years after communism ended, the castle was returned to Ileana’s son Dominic Hapsburg, a retired New York architect.

A Romanian company now manages the castle, which is open to the public for tours, but nobody has stayed overnight there since Mr Hapsburg and his family were exiled from the country. 

Airbnb are offering to fly the winner in from anywhere in the world and arrange for a horse-drawn carriage to carry them swiftly through Transylvania “as the sun sets towards the horizon, heralding the hours of swooping bats and howling wolves.”

The holiday rental company said: “When you come around the final bend on the tree-lined road, you’ll catch a glimpse of Bran Castle. This misty mountain-top manor is home for the night. The chill that suddenly fills the carriage is not the evening mist, it’s a fear older than the forests now grown up around the castle rock. This is the lair of vampires, and you cannot leave until dawn.”

Once inside, guests will be permitted to explore all of the castle's 57 rooms and “labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors, creepy nooks, and squeaky staircases” as they please.  

Mr Stoker will then serve guests a “hearty, blood-enriching meal” of Chicken Paprikash – the same thing protagonist Jonathan Harker is given to eat in the classic story, before leaving them to sleep in their coffins "to the creaks and whispers of the Transylvanian night, and the sound of wolves roaming outside the castle walls".

Guests are simply asked not to bring anything scented with garlic or any silver jewellery, and to refrain from placing anything in a cross formation or taking "mirror selfies".

To enter the competition, prospective guests are asked to use their “dark imagination and deep knowledge of vampires” to decide what they would say to the Count if they were to come face-to-fang with him in his own castle.

After all, it makes sense to be prepared...

Mr Stoker said: “Did he really die at end of the novel when he was stabbed with knife? Bram leaves the question ambiguous. But if he’s still floating around, he would make an appearance.”