For its Halloween contest, Airbnb offered up a one-night stay 66 feet below ground in the Catacombs of Paris, home to the remains of 6 million dead people. The winner of the contest, 27-year-old Pedro Arruda of Brazil, took his mom as his guest, according to PBS News Hour.
In 100 words or less, entrants had to explain why they were brave enough to lay beside the dead in what is known as “The World’s Largest Grave.” The labyrinth, which extends for nearly 322 kilometers (200 miles), was constructed in the late 18th century in the city’s former limestone quarries. It was a solution to rampant overcrowding in graveyards, which were considered a public health hazard as they reeked of rotting flesh.
On Halloween night, the two winners descended 20 meters (66 feet) below the earth to the spooky suite, which was outfitted with a double bed, antique vanity, dining table and candelabras. The guests got to learn about the history of the ossuary and explore its winding corridors. Then a gourmet meal was served followed by a private concert (no word yet on if it was a Grateful Dead reunion), and before bed, a storyteller shared “fascinating tales from the catacombs… guaranteed to produce nightmares.”
Members of the Paris city council spoke out against the contest, insisting that it violated an article of the civil code stating that “the respect due to the human body does not cease with death.” Airbnb reportedly paid the municipality €350,000 ($398,515 USD) to the rent the catacombs for the night. The money is to help support the preservation of the historic site.
After the contest was over, Arruda and his mother became “the only living [people] to ever wake up in the Paris catacombs.”