Enter essay contest to spend Halloween night at Dracula’s castle

BRAN CASTLE, Romania — Website Airbnb is holding a contest worthy of Halloween. There’s plenty at stake, so to speak.

Two people will get to spend All Hallows’ Eve in the Transylvanian castle that inspired Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”

Applicants are being asked to use their “vampiric wit” to imagine what they’d say to Count Dracula if they were to meet him. Your submission must be between 50 – 500 characters.

Airbnb provided the following description for the contest prize:

A horse-drawn carriage carries you swiftly through Transylvania as the sun sets towards the horizon, heralding the hours of swooping bats and howling wolves. 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.

Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great grandnephew, will answer your knock on the castle’s imposing wooden doors. He will be your host for the night, and resident expert on Transylvanian lore. Enter the castle and explore the labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors, creepy nooks, and squeaky staircases while there is still light in the sky. You may traipse through all fifty-seven rooms, from lofty tower lookouts to deep dark crypts, and even enjoy an incomparable view of the Carpathians from the terrace as the sun makes its final descent. But once darkness comes, retreat inside. Unexpected guests have been known to come knocking in the moonlit hours.

A secret passage on the first floor leads to the grand dining room where an intimate candlelit dinner will await, prepared exactly as described in Bram Stoker’s novel. Following the hearty, blood-enriching meal, you will be left to sleep in luxurious velvet-trimmed coffins in the seclusion of the Count’s crypt.

Fall asleep to the creaks and whispers of the Transylvanian night, and the sound of wolves roaming outside the castle walls.

The site’s actual name is Bran Castle, and it 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 castle is one of Romania’s top tourist attractions, with more than 630,000 visitors a year. It was originally a military fortress, strategically set on a highway that links Transylvania to southern Romania.