If you’re like me, you may be wondering how Airbnb, certainly no stranger to "one night only" pop-up stunt listings in pulse-raising locales, is getting into the macabre spirit of the season.
Which “distinctive and unprecedented accommodation” is Airbnb putting up for grabs, via essay contest, in October — and by October, I specifically mean the night of Oct. 31?
A suite at the Bokor Palace & Casino in Vietnam?
A remote cabin in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey?
Nah. All of these spots are a not-so-terrifying walk in the park in comparison to Airbnb’s latest one-off slumber party property, a listing that most reasonable folks, the exceptionally gallant not included, are likely to respond to with a resounding non, merci.
Those who think they could make it through the night and enjoy sleeping (or not sleeping) in a subterranean 18th-century cemetery surrounded by the remains of a few million long-dead Parisians, well, it’s your lucky day. While Paris’ labyrinthine network of skull-lined ossuaries are open during the daylight hours as a heavily trafficked underground museum, this is the first time in modern history that the Catacombs of Paris — aka the world’s largest mass grave — have been open (legally) to intrepid overnight visitors.
As for the accommodations, they appear to be appropriately, ahem, bare bones — there’s no coffeemaker, wireless router or flat-screen TV in sight. It's also not entirely unclear what the bathroom situation is. Other than a wrought iron lit, a couple of strategically placed candelabras and an antique dressing table topped with a few antediluvian accoutrement (is that the Book of the Dead I spy?), this listing is all about the tasteful yet dread-inducing atmospherics.
Of course, the chance to spend All Hallows’ Eve hunkered down 65-feet beneath the 14th arrondisesment in the company of a sizable army of dead folks isn’t a check-in-and-see-you-in-the-morning type of arrangement. The experience comes complete with a private tour led by the museum's curator followed by a “dazzling culinary experience” complete with musical accompaniment. In lieu of turndown service, guests are visited by a bedside storyteller (this guy?) who “will have you spellbound with fascinating tales from the catacombs, guaranteed to produce nightmares.”
Provided you make it through the night, breakfast is also included.
It’s worth noting that, much like Airbnb listings that aren’t skeleton-filled crypts, a few house rules must be observed: “Be mindful of your Parisian neighbors, both living and dead;” “no bobbing for apples in the Catacomb pools;” and, above all, “please respect the Catacombs as you would your own grave.”
Seems reasonable, right?
Additionally, a press release notes that "special measures were put in place to ensure the safety of participants and the preservation of the ossuary." This is a good thing, obviously, as one wouldn't want to raise the ire of any malevolent spirits lurking around down there.
The contest, which runs through Oct. 20, is open to all registered Airbnb members who submit an original short essay in English or French, explaining why “you think you’re brave enough to sleep in the Paris Catacombs.”
One winner, provided with round-trip travel to and from Paris for this once-in-a-lifetime traumatic experience, will be selected by a panel of judges including members of the Airbnb marketing team. The judging criteria is rather straightforward: originality, creativity and all-important Halloween "spirit."
The winner can bring along a significant other or spouse — or a plucky friend if normally open-minded said S.O. or spouse politely declines with a “oh hell, no."
Watching the below film before descending into the Catacombs for the night is highly not recommended.