By Mimosa Spencer and Manuel Ausloos
PARIS (Reuters) – Airbnb is offering a night for two in the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris this summer, transforming a box in the theatre into a plush bedroom with sweeping views of the famous auditorium.
The “Phantom of the Opera”-themed stay – a nod to the novel by Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical – comes as tourism bounces back in Europe after several years of pandemic disruptions, with visitors from the United States arriving in France in droves since last summer.
European capitals are also gearing up for the return of Chinese tourists, following the lifting of travel restrictions.
Before the pandemic, Airbnb had created other unusual overnight stays in the French capital, one of its key markets. These included a shark tank in the city’s aquarium, the skull-lined catacombs, the Moulin Rouge cabaret and the glass pyramid in the Louvre.
The idea is to encourage people “to travel and dream at the same time — and raise a lot of emotions around travel,” Emmanuel Marill, Airbnb director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa told Reuters.
The Palais Garnier stay includes a music recital, dinner in an ornate rehearsal room backstage and a behind-the-scenes tour of the elaborate 19th century building, including its underground pool, the inspiration for the phantom’s lair in the book and musical.
The Palais Garnier stay will be listed on March 1 for 37 euros, also the number on the box, one of the theatre’s most prestigious, which will be decked out with antique furniture specially for the night.
It will be offered on a first-come-first-serve basis to an applicant registered on the company’s online rental platform.
“It’s a bit of a fantasy. I think it will be a bit unreal,” said Veronique Dubrulle Leroux, the great-granddaughter of Phantom of the Opera author Leroux, who will host the visitors.
As part of the project, Airbnb will also fund the renovation of the theatre’s 19th century boxes and help the Opera de Paris to update its online streaming platform.
(Reporting by Mimosa Spencer and Manuel Ausloos. Editing by Jane Merriman)