Parisian Opera House That Inspired ‘Phantom of the Opera’ Becomes an Airbnb

For just one night, two travelers will spend the night in the Palais Garnier’s Box of Honor

Opulent gold interior with a staircase
Two lucky visitors will spend the night inside the Palais Garnier, exploring the historic opera house and enjoying private tours and other perks. Thibaut Chapotot / Airbnb

Phantom of the Opera fans can now spend the night inside the opulent Parisian opera house that inspired the beloved musical and novel.

Airbnb and the Opéra National de Paris have teamed up to transform one of the Palais Garnier’s chambers, the Box of Honor, into a lavish bedroom. While the box is typically reserved for visiting dignitaries, two lucky guests will get to have a sleepover there this summer for €37 (roughly $39). The fee is a nod to the Box of Honor’s number.

Booking for the one-night stay opens March 1 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. Whoever nabs the coveted spot will get to sleep at the opera house on July 16.

Lavish bedroom decorated with red and gold
The Box of Honor is typically reserved for dignitaries but is now available for a one-night sleepover on Airbnb. Thibaut Chapotot / Airbnb

The stay also includes a private ballet lesson taught by one of the Paris Opera’s ballet dancers, a private recital by Paris Opera Academy artists, dinner in the rehearsal room behind the stage, and a tour of the building’s private dance studios. The guests will also get a tour of the Palais Garnier’s hidden areas, including its underground lake and archives.

Travelers who don’t book the Airbnb can still experience the Palais Garnier by attending one of the many performances held there, including ballets, operas, concerts and recitals. Guided or self-guided tours are also available, as well as virtual tours through Google Arts & Culture.

The Phantom of the Opera has been the longest-running Broadway show since 2006. In recent years, the production has been struggling with declining ticket sales and inflation, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic. Later this spring, after 35 years, the production will end its record-setting run.

Spotlight on lavish red opera house box with a bed inside
The location of the Box of Honor inside the opera house Thibaut Chapotot / Airbnb

After initially scheduling the last show for February, the musical’s producers decided to extend the run until April because of a surge in ticket sales after the announcement.

“For most of last year, we were losing [money] every week,” said producer Cameron Mackintosh to the New York Times’ Michael Paulson in November. “There comes a point when you become theatrical wallpaper. People took it for granted that it’s going to run forever.”

The Palais Garnier stay is part of Airbnb’s efforts to revive Europe’s heritage tourism offerings. The vacation rental platform is supporting efforts to restore the Palais Garnier’s boxes and helping the Opera National de Paris develop a streaming platform.

Airbnb has run similar stunts before, allowing travelers to stay at sites such as the Moulin Rouge cabaret and George Harrison’s childhood home.

The goal is to encourage potential visitors “to travel and dream at the same time—and raise a lot of emotions around travel,” Emmanuel Marill, Airbnb’s director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, tells Reuters’ Mimosa Spencer and Manuel Ausloos.

Elaborate opera house against a dark background
The Palais Garnier inspired Gaston Leroux to write The Phantom of the Opera (1910), which became a popular musical in 1986. Thibaut Chapotot / Airbnb

Fittingly, the Airbnb host is Véronique Leroux, the great-granddaughter of Gaston Leroux, who wrote the original novel in 1910. Leroux, who originally published the story as a series of installments in newspapers, drew inspiration from real events and legends surrounding the Palais Garnier. For example, the underground lake in the phantom’s lair is based on a real-life body of water that exists beneath the Palais Garnier where Parisian firefighters practice swimming without lights, according to the Los Angeles Public Library.

Andrew Lloyd Webber transformed Leroux’s novel into a musical in 1986. Since then, more than 145 million theater-goers around the world have watched it. It’s also racked up numerous accolades, including seven Tony Awards.

While it’s slated to close on Broadway this spring, the musical will live on throughout 2023 with performances in seven languages in 15 countries.

“My great-grandfather’s classic story has inspired so many people through the years,” says Véronique Leroux in a statement from Airbnb. “This is the perfect time to honor him and welcome ‘phans’ to the famous setting of his much-loved novel for a once-in-a-lifetime stay.”

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