The Stanley Hotel is known world-wide for many things; one of which being Stephen King’s “The Shining”. It’s commonly known as one of the most haunted places in the world. The Stanley Hotel, located deep in Estes Park, Colorado, is fear-inspiring even if you don’t believe in ghosts. There’s no doubting the hotel’s ability to instill fear in those who dare enter. The hotel’s haunted past is based on a series of provable facts and events, and anecdotal evidence and speculation.
The Stanley’s Background
The Stanley Hotel dates back to 1903 when Freelan Oscar Stanley made his way to the desolate valley, weak and terribly sick. Some say he traveled to the valley because he was sick with tuberculosis. He hoped the fresh air would help him recover, while others believed he was convinced he was dying from consumption. It is rumoured he wanted to be somewhere beautiful when he passed. After one summer, his health was restored.
Alongside his wife, Flora, Stanley made plans for the large hotel and in 1909, it finally opened. Although the hotel was completely surrounded by wilderness, the hotel still had electricity, telephones, modern bathrooms and a wait staff. For decades, the Stanley Hotel was seen as posh and exclusive.
By the 1970s, though, the one fabulous hotel was run down due to neglect and lack of investment, becoming a shell of its former glory. It could have easily been demolished if not for the string of unexplainable occurrences and a now-famous author with his nightmares.
Stephen King’s “The Shining”
In the 1970s, author Stephen King lived in Boulder, Colorado to work on the novel, “The Stand”. For a weekend away from their children, he and his wife traveled the hour to Estes Park to stay at the Stanley Hotel. As it was the end of the season and everyone was leaving, King and his wife would be the only guests at the hotel that night.
After going to the restaurant and bar, they retired to room 217. That night, King had a lucid nightmare in which he was chasing his screaming son down a hallway and a coiled firehose came to life. King woke in a panic and after going through a cigarette, he went back to bed with the outline of “The Shining” forming in his head.
The hotel’s connection to King and the night that inspired “The Shining” are the hotel’s most famous and influential creepy occurrence. But other unexplainable and paranormal happenings have frequented the grounds long before the 1970s.
After the hotel’s power went out for the first time after the valley experienced a flood on June 25, 1911, Freelan Stanley decided he was going to install gas lanterns in every room. A leak caused a buildup of gas to form in room 217. The head chambermaid, Elizabeth Wilson, entered the room with a lit candle and caused an explosion. She miraculously survived the blast and was launched from the room through the floor to the dining hall on the first floor.
After waking up from a coma, Wilson returned to work and was employed there until the 1950s. In most cases, this is where her story would end, but the Stanley Hotel isn’t most cases. Staff and guests have reported her spirit still inhabiting room 217, but she isn’t scaring guests, she’s helping them.
One couple reported waking up to their clothes neatly folded and the bed made around them. If you aren’t married, though, you probably won’t have the most restful night in room 217. One unmarried couple once reported a cold presence settling into the bed with them as they slept.
The Grand Staircase
True to the hotel itself, the grand staircase is full of ornate features, beautiful portraits and huge mirrors. It’s said to be one of the most haunted spots in the hotel. It’s one of the most popular places for spirits to frequent, many saying it’s where they go to pass through to other parts of the hotel. Also known as “The Vortex”, the staircase is said to be a spiral of energy where spirits can transport themselves through the large mirrors on the walls.
In 2016, a guest was taking pictures of the elegant staircase and ended up capturing what looked to be a black apparition of a woman in a dress standing at the top of the stairs. The guest claimed there was nothing there that could explain the apparition to appear in the photo.
It’s not widely known, but the Stanley Hotel is built on a system of caves, one of which includes an underground tunnel connected to the hotel. It’s far less known in comparison to room 217, but no less terrifying with the dark and ominous appearance.
The tunnel was used as a path for employees to get around and still assists staff when trying to navigate the large building. Past staff may even be the ones responsible for the paranormal experiences within the tunnel. One is said to be a chef who brings the smell of home-baked goods that seem to linger with no source. Another, lesser-known apparition is the spirit of the gray cat, commonly described as having bright green, glowing eyes.
While room 217 gets the spotlight, room 428 is not to be underestimated. It’s also highly sought after by paranormal enthusiasts and one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. There have been reports of furniture being moved around by themselves and even a cowboy that frequents the room. He has been known to stand over guests as they sleep and even give the ladies a kiss.
While room 428 is certainly a point of interest, the fourth floor is known to be the most haunted floor of the hotel. It has the most ghostly sightings and reports, with many children seen wandering the halls and room 401 is said to be haunted by the former landowner.
The Concert Hall
While the fourth floor may be the most haunted, there is more activity and more ghosts in the concert hall than anywhere else. The spirit of a handyman from the 1980s, Paul, is said to linger in the grand space. Another frequent resident is Lucy, a spirit with a mysterious background. No one knows how she came to linger at the Stanley Hotel, she’s said to be a young, homeless woman that died near the grounds and decided to stay. There are many children seen running around the hall, interacting with guests often. The main point of the concert hall is the large, strange mirror that’s heavy with spiritual energy. The origins of the mirror aren’t known, but many have claimed to see or capture figures when they look into it.
Visiting the Hotel
Staying at or even just visiting the Stanley Hotel can be such a special experience for anyone interested in the paranormal. Reservations can be booked online at their website and they offer many different packages to highlight the experience you want to have.
They finished renovations within the hotel about 5 months ago to make your stay even more special. You can even choose to stay in one of their “spirited rooms” including rooms 217, 401 and 428. They are the most requested, so make sure to book in advance. If you’re looking for something a little more spooky than the rooms, you can also go to their “13 Seance” event and take part in their theatrical seance experience.