Nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the historic Stanley Hotel with its Georgian Revival architecture provided inspiration for Stephen King’s chilling novel The Shining. But is the Stanley Hotel simply a landmark or do people actually stay there as a functioning accommodation today?

If you’re looking for a quick answer, yes, people do stay at the Stanley Hotel – it is a fully operational hotel that offers accommodations, dining, events, tours, and an immersive Shining-themed experience.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the Stanley Hotel’s history, its pop culture connections to The Shining novel and films, features and amenities for guests, available room types, reputed paranormal activity, and overall experience for travelers who choose to book a stay at this iconic Estes Park hotel.

History and Background of the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back over a century. From its grand opening in 1909 to its modern-day reputation as a haunted hotel, the Stanley has captured the imaginations of visitors from around the world.

Let’s delve into the intriguing history of this iconic mountain resort.

Opening in 1909 as a Luxury Mountain Resort

The Stanley Hotel was originally built by Freelan Oscar Stanley, an inventor and entrepreneur, as a luxurious mountain retreat for wealthy vacationers seeking a respite from city life. Situated in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, the hotel offered stunning views and a tranquil atmosphere.

With its grand architecture and elegant furnishings, the Stanley quickly became a popular destination for the elite.

Over the years, the hotel underwent several expansions and renovations, adding more rooms, amenities, and recreational facilities to accommodate the growing number of guests. Today, the Stanley Hotel boasts over 400 rooms, a championship golf course, and a variety of dining options.

Visits from Famous Guests Like the Titanic Survivors

Throughout its history, the Stanley Hotel has hosted many famous guests, adding to its allure and prestige. One notable visit was by the survivors of the Titanic, who sought solace and healing at the hotel after the tragic sinking of the legendary ship in 1912.

The Titanic survivors found comfort in the peaceful surroundings of the Stanley, allowing them to recover from the trauma they had experienced.

Other notable guests include several U.S. presidents, renowned authors, and Hollywood celebrities. The hotel has served as a backdrop for numerous films and television shows, further enhancing its reputation as a cultural landmark.

Inspiring Stephen King’s The Shining in the 1970s

Perhaps the most famous chapter in the Stanley Hotel’s history is its connection to the iconic horror novel, “The Shining,” written by Stephen King. In the 1970s, King and his wife stayed at the Stanley while it was nearing the end of its winter season.

They were the only guests staying in the hotel, which was preparing to close for the season. During their stay, King was inspired by the eerie atmosphere and isolation of the hotel, which served as the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in his novel.

Although the Stanley Hotel differs from the fictional Overlook Hotel in many ways, such as its architecture and location, the association with “The Shining” has made it a popular tourist destination for fans of the book and movie adaptation.

Visitors can take ghost tours, explore the haunted hallways, and even stay in the infamous Room 217, where King himself stayed during his visit.

Whether you’re interested in the history, the paranormal, or simply seeking a luxurious and scenic getaway, the Stanley Hotel offers a unique experience that combines a rich past with modern amenities.

From its origins as a luxury mountain resort to its iconic role in literature and film, the Stanley continues to captivate and intrigue visitors from all walks of life.

Pop Culture Legacy from The Shining

The Shining, a novel written by Stephen King and later adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick, has left an indelible mark on popular culture. Released in 1980, the psychological horror film continues to captivate audiences with its eerie atmosphere, unsettling storyline, and iconic visuals.

One of the most enduring aspects of The Shining’s legacy is its connection to the real-life Stanley Hotel, which served as inspiration for the eerie Overlook Hotel in the story.

Stanley Hotel Tours Focused on the Horror Classic

The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, has embraced its association with The Shining and offers a variety of tours and experiences for fans of the horror classic. Visitors can take a guided tour of the hotel, exploring areas that inspired scenes from the book and film.

These tours provide a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of The Shining and gain insights into the creative process behind the story.

During the tours, knowledgeable guides share behind-the-scenes anecdotes and trivia, revealing interesting tidbits about the filming process and the hotel’s role in the story. Guests can visit Room 217, the infamous room where Stephen King stayed and found inspiration for his novel.

The hotel also offers ghost tours, allowing visitors to explore the purported paranormal activity that has been reported over the years.

The Shining Maze and Axe Photo Opps for Guests

In addition to the tours, the Stanley Hotel has introduced unique attractions that pay homage to The Shining. One such attraction is the Shining Maze, a hedge maze inspired by the film’s iconic final scene.

Visitors can navigate their way through the maze, reenacting the suspenseful chase sequence and capturing memorable photos along the way. It’s an exciting and interactive experience that allows fans to step into the shoes of the film’s characters.

For those seeking an even more immersive experience, the hotel offers a photo opportunity with an iconic prop from the film: the axe. Guests can pose with a replica of the axe wielded by Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrance, in one of the film’s most memorable scenes.

It’s a fun and thrilling way to commemorate their visit to the Stanley Hotel and their connection to The Shining.

Annual Horror Film Festival and Shining Anniversary Events

The Stanley Hotel has become a hub for horror enthusiasts, hosting an annual horror film festival that celebrates the genre and showcases a selection of chilling films. The festival attracts filmmakers, actors, and fans from around the world, creating a vibrant and exciting atmosphere for all attendees.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for fans of The Shining to come together and share their love for the film.

Moreover, the hotel organizes special events and celebrations to commemorate significant milestones in The Shining’s history. From anniversary parties to themed weekends, these events offer a chance to engage with the film’s legacy in a festive and immersive way.

Whether it’s attending a masquerade ball or participating in a Jack Nicholson look-alike contest, these events provide a unique and memorable experience for fans.

Hotel Amenities and Entertainment for Guests

Multiple Dining and Drinking Options

The Stanley Hotel offers a range of dining and drinking options to cater to the diverse tastes of its guests. With multiple on-site restaurants and bars, visitors can indulge in a variety of culinary experiences.

From fine dining establishments with exquisite menus to casual eateries serving up delicious comfort food, there is something to satisfy every palate. Guests can also enjoy refreshing cocktails and specialty drinks at the hotel’s stylish bars, where they can unwind and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere.

Spa, Fitness Center, and Outdoor Activities

The Stanley Hotel understands the importance of relaxation and wellness, which is why it provides guests with a luxurious spa and fitness center. Visitors can pamper themselves with rejuvenating spa treatments, such as massages and facials, or maintain their fitness routine at the state-of-the-art gym.

Additionally, the hotel offers various outdoor activities for those who seek adventure or simply want to explore the beautiful surroundings. From hiking and biking trails to guided nature tours, guests can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area.

Concert Hall and Event Spaces

One of the standout features of The Stanley Hotel is its concert hall and event spaces. The hotel hosts a range of live performances, including concerts, comedy shows, and theater productions, providing guests with top-notch entertainment.

Whether you are a music lover or enjoy a good laugh, you can catch a show right at the hotel. Furthermore, the versatile event spaces at The Stanley Hotel are perfect for hosting weddings, conferences, and other special occasions.

With breathtaking views and exceptional service, these spaces create a memorable setting for any event.

If you want to learn more about the amenities and entertainment options at The Stanley Hotel, you can visit their official website here.

Types of Rooms and Suites to Stay In

When you decide to stay at The Stanley Hotel, you’ll have a range of options to choose from when it comes to your accommodations. Whether you’re a fan of the classic vintage decor or prefer a more modern mountain lodge-style, there’s a room or suite that will suit your preferences and needs.

Historic Rooms with Vintage Decor

If you’re a history buff or appreciate the charm of the past, then the historic rooms at The Stanley Hotel are perfect for you. These rooms are designed to transport you back in time with their vintage decor and antique furnishings.

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a different era as you soak in the rich history and ambiance of these rooms.

Each historic room is uniquely decorated and has its own character. From the elegant Victorian-style rooms to the cozy and rustic rooms, you’ll find a variety of options to choose from. These rooms offer a glimpse into the past while still providing modern amenities for your comfort.

Modern Mountain Lodge-Style Rooms

If you prefer a more contemporary and cozy ambiance, the modern mountain lodge-style rooms at The Stanley Hotel will be a great fit for you. These rooms feature a blend of rustic and modern elements, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

With their comfortable furnishings, plush bedding, and modern amenities, these rooms offer a perfect balance of comfort and style. You’ll have all the conveniences you need to make your stay enjoyable, while still being surrounded by the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Suites and Premium Options

For those looking for a more luxurious experience, The Stanley Hotel offers a range of suites and premium options. These accommodations provide extra space, privacy, and additional amenities to make your stay truly unforgettable.

From spacious suites with separate living areas to premium rooms with stunning views, you’ll have plenty of choices to make your stay special. Some suites even come with private balconies, fireplaces, or whirlpool tubs, allowing you to indulge in ultimate relaxation and comfort.

Whatever type of room or suite you choose at The Stanley Hotel, you can be sure that your stay will be a memorable one. From the historic charm to the modern comforts, each accommodation option offers its own unique experience for guests.

Reputed Hauntings and Paranormal Sightings

The Stanley Hotel, famously known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel “The Shining,” has gained a reputation for its alleged hauntings and paranormal sightings. Over the years, numerous guests and staff members have reported unexplained phenomena, adding to the mystique of this historic establishment.

Tales of Ghosts and Phantoms on the Premises

Stories of ghostly encounters at The Stanley Hotel have circulated for decades, captivating the imagination of visitors from around the world. Some guests have reported hearing disembodied voices, mysterious footsteps, and doors opening and closing on their own.

Others have claimed to have seen apparitions of figures dressed in period clothing, reminiscent of the hotel’s early days. These chilling accounts have contributed to the hotel’s reputation as a paranormal hotspot.

One of the most famous stories involves room 217, where Stephen King himself stayed and found inspiration for his novel. Legend has it that a former housekeeper, Elizabeth Wilson, haunts the room and occasionally assists guests with their belongings.

This tale, along with many others, adds an eerie allure to The Stanley Hotel.

Offering Night Spirit Tours

The Stanley Hotel embraces its spooky reputation and offers guests the opportunity to explore the paranormal with their Night Spirit Tours. Led by experienced guides, these tours take visitors through the hotel’s most haunted areas, sharing chilling stories and providing a glimpse into the world of the supernatural.

Participants have the chance to use ghost-hunting equipment and may even experience unexplained phenomena firsthand. These tours have become a popular attraction for thrill-seekers and paranormal enthusiasts alike.

Leanings into the Supernatural Mystique

The Stanley Hotel has fully embraced its association with the supernatural, hosting events and activities that cater to those intrigued by the paranormal. The annual “Stanley Film Festival” celebrates the horror genre and showcases independent films that capture the essence of fear.

Additionally, the hotel offers a range of haunted-themed packages and special events throughout the year, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the supernatural mystique of the hotel.

While skeptics may dismiss these stories as mere legends or tall tales, The Stanley Hotel continues to attract visitors who are drawn to its haunted reputation. Whether one believes in ghosts or not, there is no denying the allure of this historic establishment and the intrigue it holds for those seeking a unique and spine-tingling experience.

The Guest Experience Staying at the Iconic Hotel

For fans of the classic horror film “The Shining,” staying at The Stanley Hotel is an experience like no other. This historic hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, has gained fame as the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel and subsequent movie adaptation.

But what is it like to actually spend a night at this iconic establishment?

Taking Part in The Shining Story

When guests check into The Stanley Hotel, they have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of “The Shining.” The hotel offers a variety of tours and experiences that allow visitors to explore the locations that inspired King’s chilling tale.

From the infamous Room 217 to the eerie hedge maze, guests can walk in the footsteps of the characters and feel a connection to the story.

One of the most popular activities is the Night Spirit Tour, where guests are taken on a guided exploration of the hotel’s haunted history. Led by knowledgeable staff members, this tour delves into the paranormal occurrences and ghostly legends associated with The Stanley Hotel.

It’s an experience that both fans of the film and believers in the supernatural can enjoy.

A Mix of History, Luxury, and Lore

Aside from its ties to “The Shining,” The Stanley Hotel offers a unique blend of history, luxury, and lore. The hotel was built in 1909 and has since become a historical landmark. Its grand architecture and elegant interior transport guests back in time, creating an atmosphere of refined sophistication.

Guests can choose from a range of accommodations, from cozy rooms with modern amenities to spacious suites with stunning views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. The hotel also boasts several on-site restaurants and bars, where visitors can indulge in delicious cuisine and handcrafted cocktails.

As for the lore surrounding The Stanley Hotel, it is believed to be one of the most haunted places in America. Numerous reports of ghostly encounters and unexplained phenomena have been documented over the years, adding to the hotel’s mystique.

Whether one believes in the supernatural or not, the stories and legends surrounding The Stanley Hotel make for an intriguing and unforgettable stay.

Year-Round Access for Travelers

Unlike many other hotels associated with famous movies, The Stanley Hotel is not just a tourist attraction. It is a fully operational hotel that welcomes guests year-round. Whether you’re a fan of “The Shining” or simply looking for a luxurious and historic getaway, The Stanley Hotel offers a unique experience for travelers.

Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities both on and off the hotel grounds. In the summer, guests can explore the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, go hiking or fishing, or take part in one of the hotel’s outdoor events.

In the winter, the hotel becomes a cozy retreat, with opportunities for snowshoeing, ice skating, and enjoying the stunning winter landscape.

All in all, staying at The Stanley Hotel is an experience that goes beyond a typical hotel stay. From its connection to “The Shining” to its rich history and beautiful surroundings, it offers guests a truly unique and unforgettable experience.


Far from simply being a fictional destination, the Stanley Hotel offers a very real-life guest experience staying at the original inspiration site for The Shining. With its reputation for paranormal activity, wealth of amenities, array of accommodation options, and robust programming celebrating its pop culture legacy, the Stanley Hotel provides a unique and memorable stay for travelers.

People flock from around the world to spend a night in the actual hotel that sparked such an iconic horror story, reveling in the chilling lore, luxury hospitality, and mountains of Colorado.

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