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Celebrate Shakespeare’s Legacy at Hamlet’s Castle

Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! A bed awaits at “Elsinore”

Kronborg Castle, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, is known as the setting of William Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. (CAVIGLIA Denis/Hemis/Corbis)
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The ramparts and halls of Elsinore Castle in Shakespeare’s Hamlet are always hopping—from ghosts to wandering madwomen to duels and deaths, the Danish castle is at the heart of one of literature’s greatest tragedies. Now, reports Claire Fallon for the Huffington Post, the action-packed castle could be one lucky traveler’s relaxing getaway.

In honor of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, a host known only as “Hamlet” on Airbnb will open the doors to Denmark’s Kronborg Castle, thought to be the real-life Elsinore, for a single night. The castle, which is a Unesco World Heritage site, was built as a royal residence and military fortress along the Sund, the stretch of water that separates Denmark and Sweden. Its strategic location at the entrance to the Baltic Sea is thought to have exposed English merchants and travelers to its existence—people who brought word of the castle back to the Bard.

Shakespeare apparently found plenty of inspiration from descriptions of the castle’s stately turrets, prison-like fortifications and royal legacy. Even the word “Elsinor” is thought to be an Anglicized version of the word “Helsingør,” the town that surrounds the castle. Today, it’s easy to imagine the ghost of Hamlet’s fathers wandering its ramparts and epic tragedies playing themselves out within.

Winning a chance to stay at Elsinore as Hamlet’s guest won’t be that tragic, though. The Airbnb listing says that the lucky winner of a night at Elsinore will be flown in from anywhere in the world. They’ll kick off their evening with “a lavish Renaissance seven-course dinner in the main ballroom, with 300 guests in attendance,” including famous Danish luminaries and entertainment from the Royal Danish Ballet. When the festivities wind down, the guest and a friend will sleep in the King’s Tower—outfitted with a convenient skull—and eat breakfast in bed the next morning.

Want to contemplate whether to be or not to be at the place that inspired the tragedy? You’ll have to work for it: The guest will be chosen based on a note telling why ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or just choose them already. But who is the castle’s mysterious “Hamlet” host? Since Kronborg is owned by the Danish government, it could very well be a Danish prince.

Update, April, 7, 2016: This story's title has been updated to reflect that the castle is located on the stretch of water that separates Denmark and Sweden.

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