The Stanley Hotel

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The Stanley Hotel
Stanley Hotel Estes Park CO.jpg
The Stanley Hotel is located in Colorado
The Stanley Hotel
Location 333 Wonder View Avenue, Estes Park, Colorado
Coordinates 40°23′0″N 105°31′6″W / 40.38333°N 105.51833°W / 40.38333; -105.51833Coordinates: 40°23′0″N 105°31′6″W / 40.38333°N 105.51833°W / 40.38333; -105.51833
Architect Freelan Oscar Stanley
Architectural style Colonial Georgian
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 85001256[1]
Added to NRHP June 20, 1985
Front of Stanley Hotel, February 2011

The Stanley Hotel is a 140-room neo-Georgian hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Located within sight of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Stanley offers panoramic views of the Rockies. It was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame and opened on July 4, 1909, catering to the rich and famous, including the RMS Titanic survivor Margaret Brown, John Philip Sousa, Theodore Roosevelt, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and a variety of Hollywood personalities.[2] The hotel and its surrounding lands are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

The Stanley Hotel also hosted the horror novelist Stephen King, inspiring him to write The Shining. Parts of the television mini-series version of The Shining were filmed there, whereas Stanley Kubrick's cinematic adaptation The Shining was filmed in sets built at Elstree Studios in England (some of the exteriors showed the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, and others showed a set based on a truncated version of that hotel).

The Stanley Hotel shows the uncut R-rated version of Kubrick's feature film on a continuous loop on Channel 42 on guest room televisions.


Hotel lobby
Music Room windows showing snowy mountains, February 2011
Vintage Stanley Steamer in hotel lobby
Antique Chickering and Sons piano

In 1903, Stanley, who was co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, came to Estes Park for his health.[3] Stanley suffered from tuberculosis and came West at his doctor's suggestion. The doctor arranged for Stanley and his wife, Flora, to stay in a cabin in Estes Park for the summer. Immediately, they fell in love with the area and Stanley's health began to dramatically improve.[2] Impressed by the beauty of the valley and grateful for the improvement in his health, he decided to invest his money and his future there. In 1909, he opened the elegant Stanley Hotel, a classic hostelry exemplifying the golden age of touring.[3]

After spending the summer in the cabin, Flora wanted a home like the one she had left in Maine. Their home was built about one-half mile west of where the Stanley Hotel would later be built. Today the house is a private residence.[2]

Stanley built the hotel on land that he had purchased from The 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, an Anglo-Irish nobleman and politician. Lord Dunraven came to the area in 1872 while on a hunting trip. He built a hunting lodge, cabin, and hotel for his guests and illegally homesteaded up to 15,000 acres (61 km2) in an unsuccessful attempt to create a private hunting preserve. Dunraven was finally run out of the area after trying to swindle people out of their land and money.[2][3]

In 1907, construction started on the Stanley Hotel. Wood and rock were obtained from the nearby mountains and the hotel was built in the Georgian architectural style, which experienced a revival in the early Twentieth century. Equipped with running water, electricity, and telephones, the only amenity the hotel lacked was heat, as the hotel was designed as a summer resort.[2]

In 2013 the hotel made headlines worldwide when it announced it would be digging up a neighboring pet cemetery – the subject of another Stephen King novel, Pet Sematary.[4]


Many believe the Stanley Hotel is haunted, having reported a number of cases of ghostly activity, primarily in the ballroom. Kitchen staff have reported to have heard a party going on in the ballroom, only to find it empty. People in the lobby have allegedly heard someone playing the ballroom's piano; employees investigating the music purportedly found nobody sitting at the piano. Employees believe that particular ghost is of Freelan O. Stanley's wife, Flora, who used to be a piano player. In one guest room, people claim to have seen a man standing over the bed before running into the closet. This same apparition is allegedly responsible for stealing guests' jewelry, watches, and luggage. Others reported to have seen ghosts in their rooms in the middle of the night, simply standing in their room before disappearing.

The Syfy television show Ghost Hunters was invited to investigate the hotel. The manager showed them the various places where these alleged ghost activities occurred. Ghost Hunters discovered some rational reasons for the various phenomena, such as wind and pipes. However, they could not decipher incidents in the ballroom. Ghost Hunters also claimed to experience other paranormal occurrences, such as seeing people in hallways then hiding and hearing children running and playing on the floor above them. The biggest alleged occurrence was that during changing of the tape in the camera, a table jumped two feet in the air. Ghost Hunter Jason Hawes stayed the night in the room with the "ghost thief"; he stated that the bed moved, the closet doors unlocked and opened and his thick glass by the bed cracked open on the inside.[5][6] The Stanley Hotel was also the lockdown site for the TV show Ghost Adventures on October 15, 2010.

After hearing claims that paranormal activity at the hotel are due to the geological makeup of the property, Rocky Mountain Paranormal contacted the US Geological Survey for information on the site. The scientists' conclusion, based on a satellite survey of Colorado, showed "nothing unusual about the aeromagnetic data in the area of Estes Park as compared to that general area of the Rockies". After this request for geological information, the government sent soil scientists to do a thorough soil survey on the property. The results showed the soil is mainly crumbled schist containing nothing radioactive. No large deposits of quartz, limestone or magnetite were evident.[7]

In Skeptical Inquirer's Naked Skeptic column by Karen Stollznow she discusses RMPRS's investigation of The Stanley Hotel, "During the investigation, The Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society researched popular beliefs and claims; they solved some mysteries, they performed valuable outreach, and they maintained the historical integrity of the Stanley Hotel. However, they didn’t discover any anomalous phenomena. They found a leak in the ceiling but no ghosts."[8]

Stephen King got the idea for his novel The Shining in 1973 after staying in room 217 in the almost empty hotel on the night before it closed for an extended period.[9]

Popular culture[edit]

The neoclassical hotel was the inspiration for the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's novel The Shining – while he and his wife were staying at the Stanley, King conceived the basic idea for the novel. King was subsequently disappointed by Stanley Kubrick's decision not to film his 1980 adaption at the Stanley Hotel. It has been used as a location for other films, most notably as the "Hotel Danbury" in the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber,[10] and as the "Overlook Hotel" in the 1997 TV adaption of The Shining, which stayed closer to King's novel than Kubrick's adaption.[11]

In May, investigators with The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) investigated the hotel for the SciFi program Ghost Hunters. TAPS returned to the hotel on October 31, 2006 for a live, six-hour follow-up investigation, with special guest CM Punk. Premiering in July 2010, Ghost Hunters Academy had the finale of the second season take place in The Stanley Hotel. In November 2008, UK channel LIVING broadcast Most Haunted's investigation of the hotel.[12]

Ghost Adventures also taped an episode there in the 4th season during which many different paranormal experiences throughout the property were shown.

In 2013, the Stanley Film Festival, an independent horror film festival, was held at the hotel between May 2 - 5, featuring film screenings, panels, student competitions, audience awards and receptions.[13]

In January of 2014, country-punk band Murder By Death played a show at the hotel. After the concert's success, brought upon by enthusiastic fans, they soon announced that they'd be returning for three nights in a row in January of 2015.

The mansion setting of the 1996 survival horror video game Resident Evil drew much of its influence from the Stanley Hotel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Rocky Mountain Legends". 
  3. ^ a b c "Rocky Mountain National Park - Culture". Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  4. ^ The Shining hotel to dig up pet cemetery. 3 News NZ. 2 October, 2013.
  5. ^ "Ghost Hunters". SciFi Channel. Season 2. Episode 222. 2006-05-31.
  6. ^ Hawes, Jason; Wilson, Grant; Friedman, Michael Jan (2007). "The Stanley Hotel February 2006". Ghost Hunting: True Stories of Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 240–259. ISBN 978-1-4165-4113-4. LCCN 2007016062. 
  7. ^ "Investigations of the Stanley Hotel". Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  8. ^ Stollznow, Karen (December 21, 2009), "The Stanley Hotel: An Investigation", Skeptical Inquirer, retrieved 2011-03-07 
  9. ^ Hawes, Wilson and Friedman, p. 244.
  10. ^ "Stanley Hotel Ghost Story". Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  11. ^ ‘The Shining’ Hotel Needs You to Design Their New Maze!
  12. ^ "New Most Haunted - Tuesday 11 November - Programme Details". Radio Times. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  13. ^ McHargue, Brad. "Inaugural Stanley Film Festival to Showcase Independent Horror Cinema May 2-5 at the Stanley Hotel". Mile High Cinema. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 

External links[edit]