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Canadians first guests to sleep overnight in Dracula’s castle in 70 years


It’s not pet friendly. There’s no Wi-Fi, or laundry access, or beds — in the traditional sense. But the Airbnb rental where an Ottawa brother and sister will spend the night this Halloween does come with two red velvet-trimmed coffins where they can hopefully rest in peace.

Tami Varma and her brother Robin will be sleeping over at the infamous Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania where Vlad the Impaler, the brutal prince who likely inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel is believed to have stayed.

They’re the first guests to spend the night inside the gothic fortress in 70 years.

Dracula
In this picture taken Oct. 9, 2016, men stand in the inner courtyard of Bran Castle, in Bran, Romania. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
Dracula
Tami Varma and her brother Robin, the grandchildren of Devendra Varma, a scholar of English gothic tales and an expert in vampire lore, pose in coffins at Bran Castle, in Bran, Romania, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

“I don’t know how much sleeping we are actually going to be doing, but we are going to try,” Tami told CTV News Channel.

The pair bested 88,000 entrants in a contest hosted by the peer-to-peer online marketplace where people list and rent short-term lodging.

Entrants were asked, “What would you say to Dracula if you met him?” Tami and Robin said their grandfather was a known expert in gothic literature, and they would “do just about anything to stay as a guest with the original vampire that inspired him.

Devendra Varma, a former professor at Dalhousie University, visited the famous castle in 1976 and shared the story with his grandchildren when they were young, before passing away in the 1990s.

“He used to tell us about footsteps that had followed him in and around the space,” said Tami. “He was smart enough to have left the castle by the time it was sundown.”

Aside from the eerie ambiance of lamp-lit corridors, secret passages, and dozens of creepy chambers, the prize includes transportation via horse-drawn carriage, and a greeting from Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great grandnephew.

There are a handful of house rules according to the Airbnb listing:

• No garlic or garlic-scented items allowed

• You are kindly requested to leave your silver jewellry at home

• Do not cross the cutlery. In fact, please refrain from placing anything in a cross formation

• Beware of the bats in the castle tower

• Please close all curtains before sunrise

• The count is not a fan of mirror selfies

The pair will eat a gourmet meal on a candlelit table inspired by the iconic 1897 horror novel. Chicken paprikash is on the menu, along with an assortment of Transylvanian smoked cheeses, fruit and bottles of plum and blackcurrant brandy.

“It’s pretty out of this world. They have a live string quartet that is playing for us. Just candles lit everywhere. It’s surreal right now,” said Tami.

She and her brother said the coffins they plan to sleep in are surprisingly inviting.

“To be quite honest, they are more comfortable them my Tempur-Pedic (bed) at home. I’m blown away,” said Tami in a cell phone video.

She’s anticipating a “pretty terrifying” stay once the caretakers leave them alone for the night. They’ll be relying on their grandfather to ward off any unregistered guests should the occasion arise.

“I’m not entirely sure how he would feel about his two grandchildren spending the night in Dracula’s castle,” said Tami. “We hope that his spirit is watching over us and making sure we are going to make it through the night alive.”

With a report from CTV Ottawa and files from The Associated Press

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