Well, that’s settled.
Home-sharing platform HomeAway, which is popular in Europe, will not be outdone by competitor Airbnb’s ongoing contest-stunts in which distinctive Parisian locales such as the Catacombs and an 80,000-gallon shark tank are transformed into one-off vacation rental listings.
HomeAway got the Eiffel Tower.
Somehow — by sorcery, magic or good old-fashioned convincing, I’m really not sure — the Austin, Texas-based company has persuaded the Eiffel Tower's operating company, Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), to allow for the construction of a petite pop-up apartment in the beyond-iconic wrought-iron lattice observation tower. Constructed as the impossible-to-miss centerpiece of the 1889 Exposition Universelle, the 1,063-foot-tall Tour Eiffel reigned as the tallest man-made structure in the world up until 1930 when the Chrysler Building bumped it from the top spot. And that honor was snatched away less than a year later by the Empire State Building.
To be clear, HomeAway’s temporary 2,000-square-foot accommodations will not be located on the highest of the Eiffel Tower’s three public observation levels — the same dizzying level that's home to both a champagne bar and civil engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel's carefully restored apartment and office. Rather, the Benoit Leleu-designed crash pad will be realized on the freshly redesigned — and partially glass-bottomed — first level. Attractions on the tower's wind turbine-powered first level include banquet facilities (likely the site of the ephemeral apartment), souvenir shops, interactive exhibits and an eatery offering a "chic picnic" menu.
So, OK, the views aren’t quite as sweeping from 187 feet up as they would be from the tower's second (377 feet) and third (906 feet) levels. But, c’mon, you’re spending the night in a deluxe private apartment in the Eiffel freaking Tower.
An illustration of the HomeAway's Eiffel Tower pop-up apartment. A press release describes the space as being "complete with bedrooms and an inviting lounging area with stunning views." (Rendering: HomeAway)
Unlike Airbnb’s regularly held “Night At …” contests which truly are one-night-only affairs, HomeAway is opening up l’appartement à la Tour Eiffel for a total of four one-night stays to be held on June 23 and 28 and July 4 and 8. Entering the contest is decidedly très facile as entrants simply must explain (in 140 characters or less) what they “would do if the Eiffel Tower Apartment was all yours for the night.”
An honest question! Seriously, what would you — and the up to five family members or friends who can also join in on the slumber party — do if given the chance to spend a single evening in the Eiffel Tower? I’m not entirely sure myself, but I’m guessing it would involve an obscene amount of rosé, old Serge Gainsbourg records and a dance party.
In addition to bestowing four lucky winners with the honor of hunkering down for the night in one of the most visited monuments in the known universe, HomeAway will throw in dinner, breakfast and three additional nights at one of the company’s non-Eiffel Tower vacation listings in Paris. Roundtrip airfare to and from Paris for the “history-making adventure” that’s sure to generate “epic vacation memories” per HomeAway co-founder and CEO Ben Sharples will be provided by Expedia.
OK, so it's not over 900 feet in the sky. But the views from the Eiffel Tower's first level aren't too shabby. In the distance are a sea of Haussmannian apartment blocks, the Passerelle Debilly and Musée du quai Branly. (Photo: HomeAway)
Entries will be accepted through May 31.
Not at all surprisingly, the chance to spend the night in the Eiffel Tower is part of a larger push for HomeAway to advertise itself and its services during the UEFA Euro 2016 men’s football championship, which is being held in Paris June 10 (the same date the contest winners will be announced) through July 10. Thanks to Euro 2016, an event in which HomeAway is a major sponsor, it’s going to be a crazy-busy summer on the already active Parisian home-sharing scene.
What’s more, HomeAway is crowdsourcing the design-savvy general public for input and ideas on “final design elements” for the Eiffel Tower apartment using the #EiffelTowerAllYours hashtag on its social media channels.
If not the Eiffel Tower, is there another global architectural monument that you’d be gung-ho about spending a single night in?