Ambrose Transylvania: For All The Damn Vampires

For

All The

Damn

Vampires

A hotel and a meal.
Sebastian LaCroix
A fifteen minute read.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Extraordinary)

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rating: +2+x

Ambrose Transylvania is an unusual location for the brand, as it is not exclusively a dining establishment, but also a five-star hotel. The complex sits just outside of Cluj-Napoca, in the peaceful foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The region has historically popular with all manner of hemovores, ranging from the Common Vampyre to the more strange and monstrous Pale Ones. Ambrose Transylvania caters specifically to such entities. Although it is close enough to the city to make hunting easy, it also offers a variety of in-house dining that excels over traditional feeding.

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The above-ground hotel.

The hotel is divided into two portions: one aboveground and the other underground. The above ground hotel does not carry the Ambrose name, and is marketed simply as an ordinary inn. Ambrose Transylvania, on the other hand, is the true resort: located underground and only serving blood.

I recently was invited to meet with Chaz Ambrose at Ambrose Transylvania, both to review the hotel and restaurant but also to interview him. Despite our frequent reviews of his establishments, Chaz has never given Waldon Studio an interview before. I was honored to have the privilege, although I am the only vampire that works for the Studios, and was therefore the only appropriate choice. It would be nice to eat at a venue that specifically caters to me, and not just one for general cannibals.

Mr. Ambrose was waiting for me when my coffin arrived into the dark chambers of the hotel. The entry foyer is deep underground, far enough in that sunlight doesn't penetrate. It is lit by a few dim torches, creating a level of light perfect to our kind and our adapted vision. Ambrose helped open up my coffin, and pulled me out. He had a glass of blood ready for me to rouse me, and we each took a sip as soon as I woke up.

He welcomed me to the hotel, as his guest, invoking all the ancient and profane rules of hospitality that govern our kind. We performed the rituals of hospitality, as I gave him a gift and him outlining the terms of my stay. He told me we would meet for dinner and the interview just before dawn on the second night of my stay, and in the mean time I was free to have the run of the place, as though I myself was the Lord of the Manor.


The Hotel

I have stayed in many hotels in my long unlife, many which have catered exclusively to hemovores like myself. I must say that out of all of them, Ambrose Transylvania is one of the finest establishments I have seen. It satisfies everything that I was looking for in such an establishment, and I hope to have the chance to stay there many more times over the coming centuries. Every part of the place is specifically designed to be a great experience for all hemovores to relax.

The rooms themselves are comfortable and spacious. The style is antiquated, but this only makes it all the more familiar to a vampire. The modern and postmodern schools are too recent and strange for many of us, and it is always nicer to stay somewhere that doesn't make you feel like a bygone relic.

Two of the major problems that hemovore hotels always come across are the view out of your room and the fact you have to share your hotel with other vampires. Ambrose Transylvania has managed to solve both of these.

The View

No vampire can look outside during the day. No vampire can last for a moment in the sun. Although there are rare hemovores that can survive daylight, they are rare and almost never similar to humans. This means that we cannot see many of the best sights that a city may have to author, and that many of the typical features are things we cannot look at. A cautious vampire — a good vampire — doesn't even like to be in a room that could get sunlight, even if they've cautiously boarded the place up.

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The view from my hotel room.

The only good places for us to have a hotel — one that caters specifically to our needs — is to put it underground. This is the only good solution to the problem of sunlight, but it does not come without complications of its own.

Nonetheless, we want to look at something when we go to sleep, but the underground is rarely captivating. Ambrose Transylvania solves this problem by constructing all of the rooms on the shore of a vast and beautiful underground lake. The sight is nothing more than captivating, and lit in soulless electronic spotlights, it is not the kind of light that burns. Ambrose has solved one of the oldest desires of our kind, and done so in an excellent manner. There is no room in the hotel that does not have such captivating views.

The Other Bloodsuckers

There is nothing a vampire hates more than another vampire. We are infamous for our squabbles. Fights over feeding territory, the right to induct human into our bloodlines, the grandiose games that elders play over human civilizations. Our humors are imbalanced, and blood dominates (with only a little yellow bile to balance it). We are excitable and quick to anger.

So when you put any large number of us into one small, confined space, the obvious occurs. It is up to the owner of each hotel to figure out how to fix this issue. I have seen many attempts over the years: not letting vampires interact with each other (how droll), blood bonding all hotel residents (how tyrannical) or with copious guards (how claustrophobic).

Ambrose Transylvania's solution is not the most elegant I have ever seen, but it does the job well. The ground is ritually desecrated to a few dark blood gods (Chaz refused to tell me which he dedicated them to). Notably, these gods do not find our presence to be intolerable. In fact, it is the opposite: harming one of our kind is the great sin. Violate it, and they shall smite thee down, revoking whatever sanguine bonds animate you.

The solution is blunt, but it does not feel oppressive. As long as you do not harm another bloodsucker, the magic actually empowers and invigorates you while you are in the premises. You can interact with other vampires to your heart's delight without worrying about the potential danger of getting your own throat ripped out.


The Dining

After I had my time to explore the hotel room, it was time for dinner. I met with Chaz at dawn on the second night of my stay. It was getting late into the experience for me, as I am normally at rest during the time, or getting ready for it. I am not one to risk movement during the daylight hours. Chaz arrived at my door and waited for me to finish preparing, never crossing over the threshold. We then walked to the restaurant for an interview and a review.

I shall divide my dining experience into three sections.

The Food

Very few vampires can eat traditional food. Even if we are able to stomach it, we do not get much sustenance from it. More likely than not, however, we simply end up vomiting it all back out.

But Ambrose Transylvania is a restaurant. And despite the inability of our bodies to consume food, we still find ourselves wanting to engage in the practices of the living. The venue wants to feed us, and we want to eat! But how to make food that we are actually capable of consuming?

The solution Chaz came up with: just use a lot of blood in the cooking process. If the food is bloody enough, then we'll be able to eat it and keep it down. Not only that, it'll be enough for us to get some form of sustenance out of it. We'll get the taste of whatever food we're eating, and nutrition from all the blood that was involved in it.

Of course, there are only so many recipes that can be converted to use a great amount of blood, so the menu is limited. Rather than a proper selection, it cycles through a small list of daily specials. This is not a major issue, since we cannot eat in many locations, and anything is appreciated. The menu on the night I was there was two items: bloody brioche and blood sausage.

The brioche was the first to arrive. It used a simple trick: the fact that blood can be used as a substitute for eggs (forty-three grams of blood for a single egg). The bread itself was discolored red, but looked delicious. A single loaf was delivered to our table, which Chaz broke in half, giving one piece to me and keeping the other himself.

The brioche was rich and sweet. Although brioche does not make the most sense for an appetizer, there are not many breads that use eggs and could be converted into a bloody version. Thus, brioche was one of the only options, and I was certainly glad to have it: I haven't eaten bread in a long time.

The blood sausage was simple but delicious. The amount of fat and blood was somewhat poorly balanced according to normal metrics, but that only served to make it all the more suited to my kind. The sausage had been applewood smoked, giving it a sweet and smoky flavor that I fondly remembered from my living youth.

I remembered hearing that Ambrose Transylvania would make you feel alive. I had some doubts as to whether this would be true or not, and assumed that the food would have some properties that either turned me alive briefly, or changed my perceptions to think I was alive, or force some grandiose vision upon me. None of that happened: the food is simply well-cooked, delicious and reminds you of better days.

The Blood List

Ambrose Transylvania has an ample and well stocked blood list. There were over two hundred varieties of blood listed, each in a variety of categories and traits. It was almost far too much blood to sort through. All of the standard options are present: each ABO type, in both Rh+ and Rh-, is carried, most with multiple donor options. All of the major options also have a virgin option, although it is slightly more expensive.

Tuatha Dé Danann

Taken from the residents of the wondrous isle of Hy-Brasil, the blood of the Tuatha Dé Danann (sometimes known as the sidhe) is intoxicating to all. It has a light hallucinogenic effect, giving those who drink it a briefly glimpse through the eyes of the fae.

Looking through the list, I saw that they had a few options from the Tuatha Dé Danann. I have never had the chance to sup on fae blood before, and this stood out to me as the most interesting option I could order. I doubted that I would ever have the chance to dine on it again, as the fair folk are not keen on allowing a leech to take their blood. It was one of the more pricy options on the menu, but Chaz simply laughed and told me to order what I wanted.

So I took the fae blood. Since there was a virgin option and price was no object, I took the virgin option. I do not exclusively dine on such blood, but I do find it generally improves the taste. Chaz similarly took advantage of the long blood list and ordered female S’kakithi blood for himself. (For those unaware, the S'kakithi are a race of large, sapient spiders who live alongside us. I have not had the chance to taste their blood before.)

The glasses were quick to arrive, each served in a fancy and impressive goblet. One of the selling points of the establishment is that they are able to keep blood fresh and prevent the life from leaving it. For proprietary reasons, I am unable to comment on the methods that they use to do this, but I can confirm that this is the case. The blood remains fresh and provides ample nutrition despite the past date of harvest.

Chaz suggested that we each take a sip of the others glass, as part of the ancient guest rights that we were following. I accepted, and we tasted each others blood before our own. I found the S'kakithi blood to be intolerably bitter, with strong smoke and almond notes. It was personally too strong for me, but I could see the appeal. It is certainly an acquired taste, one that I would not recommend for the newest fledglings of our kind. Of course, it is to be expected that Mr. Ambrose has a more refined palette.

The Tuathan blood, on the other hand, was sweet, far sweeter than any other blood that I have ever consumed. Fortunately, it was not sweet enough to be sickening, sitting at a well defined balance of clearly present without being overwhelming. There were strong notes of grapes and strawberries, along with more esoteric notes. It was overwhelmingly alive, despite the fact I was dining on old and extracted blood. Further, it was particularly potent — what I had filled me up far more than an average human's blood would have.

All in all, by itself a great blood.

However, there was also the second sight that the blood conferred on me when I drank it. Almost immediately after my first taste, I began to see colors alight in the air, dancing and shifting around me. These were not mere hallucinations: rather, my eyes had been opened to the patterns of mana that drifted around me. I caught a glimpse of Chaz's aura under my sight, warm and open to me.

As with many vampires, drugs and alcohol no longer have any affect on my unliving constitution. It is one of the great pleasures of being alive that I dearly miss. The sidhe blood does not have quite the same effect, but it is closer than anything I ever tasted before. It, if only for a brief moment, made me feel alive again, and that is a feeling I so rarely glimpse.

The Live Dining

But these are not the primary draws of Ambrose Transylvania. What everybody really wants when they visit is the live dining: to sink your teeth into a neck and draw blood. For a high enough price, Ambrose Transylvania will let you into the top half of the hotel, to prey upon the human guests that are unfortunate to stay in the hotel. They will administer amnestics to the guest when you have finished, and clean everything up for you: a perfect opportunity to unleash and get as violent as you want.

The upstairs section of hotel has been specifically redecorated and refurbished to provide an excellent hunt. There are numerous false ends, hiding places that give themselves away, and secret passageways. A hotel huntmaster will discuss your plans with you, and control the hotel so there is only enough challenge to make it fun — not enough to actually put you at risk.

I mentioned to Chaz that I wished to engage in the live dining, and he laughed, saying it was one of the most popular facets of the hotel. Given the time — only about fifteen minutes before dawn — he told me he would stay downstairs while I went up, as there was not much time to hunt. When I asked if he was still hungry, he explained that as the founder and owner of Chaz Ambrose, all of of the employees of the brand were his servants, and it was his right to feed upon them. He snapped his fingers and called a waiter over, explaining that he would simply feast on the waiter while I went up.

Therefore, I took the elevator up alone. The huntmaster called me and explained my options. There was a single patron still awake at the time, reading in one of the libraries. No other guests were in the hotel. He could wake up another, but I didn't think that was necessary: the guest who was awake would make an ideal target.

The elevator doors opened into a wide foyer with large windows. I could see the sky beginning to grow light — I'd have to be quick about this. I shifted into the form of a large wolf, and entered the library. I toyed with him for a moment, sitting just in the corner of his vision, waiting for him to turn and notice I was there. It wasn't particularly long — about thirty seconds — but it was enough to be enjoyable.

He yelped and screamed, starting the chase. His first attempt was to run back to his room, not far away. However, the huntmaster had remotely disabled his room's keycard, and it gave nothing but rejections. I took my time coming after him, allowing the poor fool plenty of time to test the key over and over before I walked too close for comfort, and he bolted.

I let him get around the corner, and then slipped into one of the fake doors next to his own. This door did not lead into a real hotel room, but rather a passageway allowing for easy navigation around the hotel. An electronic map in the passage gave me the guest's location, and I was able to appear in the foyer before he did, snarling in the full size of a wolf.

Then — since I could get away with just about anything at the hotel — I turned back into my "human" form. He startled back, stumbling over himself and stammering in fear. At this moment, I lunged in for the bite. His blood was ripe and filled with adrenaline, making it rich and savory. There is nothing that compares to live dining.

Once I had my fill, I slipped back into the elevator. It was only a few minutes before dawn at this point, and I narrowly avoided the daylight. The scene in the foyer was messy, as I did not bother to be neat in my feeding. Normally, I would had to clean up after myself, but the hotel covers all such matters.

I returned to Chaz and found that he, too, had made a mess of himself feeding. He was still sucking on the waiters neck when I returned, sitting in a pool of blood. He sheepishly took a napkin and cleaned his face upon my arrival, but I merely laughed and explained that I had done much of the same upstairs.


The Man Himself

With the food out of the way, it is time to discuss my interview and dinner with Chaz Ambrose. Chaz was nothing but a consummate gentleman. The entirety of my visit was centered around proper host relations, and Chaz did not disappoint. He was there to welcome me when I arrived at the hotel, and was early before our dinner appointment.

Although we had a long discussion over our dinner, it was mostly over the food and casual conversation. The bulk of our discussion was finished after I was done with my live hunting on the upstairs.

Ambrose — the brand as a whole — is radically different from what it used to be a few years ago. Why?

We've grown stale as a brand. So long of not trying anything new, or just doing the same old, same old. I'm surprised we got as far as we did with it, given how run of the mill it was getting at the end. I decided I wanted to start pushing the envelope, breaking new ground.

And this location ties into that?

Oh yes, absolutely. Hemovores, vampires, bloodsuckers — an entire race of people defined by the need to eat. And we specialize in that. It's an untapped market, but it's one without a lot of development. There was plenty of room to expand, innovate and start trying new material. I could finally break free of my shell and start doing what I really wanted to do.

It was truly a wonderful experience. This is the first major establishment of its type, and I was able to be as experimental as I wanted with the menu. That's everything that I've ever wanted as a chef: the ability to take from the past when it inspires me, but not have to worry about it as a cage. To be as free as I pleased.

I have to commend your selections.

Haha. Why thank you. I put a great deal of care into choosing everything that was served here. All of the bloods have been personally vetted by myself! Well, not all of them, but I've gone over them and made sure they are up to bar. And the food took a lot of fine tuning, but I'm very happy with how that came out. Lots of long hours in the kitchen. Got fairly messy at times.

That blood list! How did you acquire so many choices?

Well, you have to draw on a lot of sources to get something like that. Make the right deals, get the right hunters, bribe a few blood banks. Your blood I remember distinctly — it was won in a game of chance with one of those faeries. Don't ask us how much we lost to get our hands on a few liters of that — nothing in terms of money, but it wasn't cheap. But oh, so worth it.

Are there any future plans you could tell us about?

As a matter of fact, there is! This is a bit of an exclusive story, but we'll be rolling out a cookbook in a few months. Haven't told anybody about this, but the working title is Ambrosia. It has all your favorite recipes from Ambrose Restaurants, along with tips on where to acquire some of the rarer ingredients. In fact, here's an advance copy!

At this point, Chaz handed me a loosely bound manuscript copy of Ambrosia, containing dozens of unique recipes perfected by Ambrose Restaurants. The details are all proprietary just now, but it will be well worth the purchase when it hits the shelves in a few months. We spent most of the rest of the dinner discussing the options within, Chaz pointing out some of his favorites. Soon enough, it was time to call our dinner to a close, and we left our table.

There was, however, one small detail I must mention.

After the end of our interview, I walked around the hotel briefly with Chaz, as he pointed out many of the details that went into the design. When we reached the elevator bay, he turned to me and bid his goodbyes. Immediately, I tried to stop him: by now, it was fully dawn outside, and the elevator opened into the sunlight. I warned Mr. Ambrose that he would disintegrate if he went up, and begged him not to take the elevator. He simply laughed and got in.

I ran over to the check-in desk and forced the attendant to let me watch the security fields. I watched as Chaz rode to the top of the elevator, only to exit into the above-ground portion of the hotel. In fear, I watched as he walked outside, stepping out into the light, fully expecting that I would be watching him die. And yet, nothing happened. He exited the building and stood in broad daylight without any consequence. He simply got into his car and drove away.

I have since learned that Mr. Ambrose is not a vampire in any sense. He is not an undead. He is just a mortal man. I have heard this from many vampires I know, and some have used their unnatural senses to check his vitals. He is nothing other than a regular human.

Normal. Just like everybody else. Except humans don't have eyes that glow in the dark. Except humans can't drink liter after liter out blood without vomiting it all back up in short order. Except humans can't bite a person's neck to draw blood. But! He isn't a vampire. Despite all the evidence he's a vampire. So what did I dine with? Was it really Chaz? And if it was, how did he pull off the act as well?


Overview

Food is one of those great things that we all truly miss from our days alive, so cruelly denied to us by our fate. The meals served by Ambrose Transylvania are excellent, and will capture the convivial rituals of dining that you have not experienced since you drew breath. The restaurant will make you feel alive again, as if you came back from the dead.

As for the interview section of this review, Chaz Ambrose remains as mysterious of a restaurateur as ever. Although I was able to catch a brief glimpse into his inner workings in during my brief interview, the man is a strange enigma who continues to captivate the food world.

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