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The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is famously known for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining. But even though the hotel provided the setting for King’s creepy story, it wasn’t actually used as a filming location for Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Despite being the inspiration for the book, none of Kubrick’s The Shining was actually filmed at the Stanley Hotel. The exterior shots of the fictional Overlook Hotel were filmed at Timberline Lodge in Oregon.

In this in-depth article, we’ll explore the relationship between The Shining and the Stanley Hotel, including:

– Background on the Stanley Hotel and its ties to Stephen King’s novel

– Information on Kubrick’s decision not to film at the Stanley Hotel

– Details on the actual filming locations used in the movie

– A look at the Stanley Hotel’s other references to The Shining

History of the Stanley Hotel and The Shining

Stephen King’s 1974 Stay at the Stanley

One of the most fascinating aspects of the history of the Stanley Hotel is Stephen King’s stay in 1974, which served as the inspiration for his iconic novel, The Shining. King and his wife spent a night at the hotel, which was nearly empty due to it being on the verge of closing for the winter.

During their stay, King had a vivid dream of his young son being chased through the hotel’s hallways by a fire hose. This nightmare, combined with the hotel’s eerie atmosphere, planted the seed for what would become one of King’s most renowned works.

The Novel’s Overlook Hotel vs. the Real Stanley

In The Shining, King created the fictional Overlook Hotel, which served as the setting for the spine-chilling events that unfolded in the story. While the Overlook Hotel was inspired by the Stanley, there are notable differences between the two.

For instance, the Overlook is depicted as a massive, isolated hotel located high in the Colorado mountains. In contrast, the Stanley Hotel is a beautiful historic landmark situated in Estes Park, Colorado.

Despite these differences, fans of The Shining can still visit the Stanley Hotel and experience its unique charm. The hotel even offers “The Shining” Tour, where guests can explore the various locations that inspired King’s novel.

From the grand lobby to the infamous Room 217, visitors can immerse themselves in the world of The Shining while enjoying the hotel’s breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.

For more information on the Stanley Hotel and its connection to The Shining, you can visit the official website.

isolated hotel

Why Kubrick Didn’t Film at the Stanley Hotel

Kubrick’s Artistic Vision for the Film

While the Stanley Hotel served as the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel “The Shining,” director Stanley Kubrick decided not to film at the actual location.

Kubrick had a unique and distinct artistic vision for the film, and he believed that filming at the Stanley Hotel would not fully capture the atmosphere and mood he wanted to create. Instead, he opted to build a replica of the hotel on a soundstage in England.

Kubrick’s decision to create a replica allowed him to have complete control over every detail of the hotel’s design, ensuring that it matched his vision perfectly. This included the iconic hedge maze, which was not present at the Stanley Hotel but became an integral part of the film.

By building his own version of the hotel, Kubrick was able to bring his artistic vision to life without being limited by the constraints of the actual location.

Logistical Challenges of Filming at Stanley

In addition to artistic considerations, there were also logistical challenges that influenced Kubrick’s decision not to film at the Stanley Hotel. The hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, was a functioning establishment that catered to guests. Filming a major Hollywood production at the hotel would have disrupted its operations and inconvenienced its guests.

Furthermore, the hotel’s layout and architecture may not have been ideal for filming. Kubrick needed a space that could accommodate the extensive camera setups and equipment required for his meticulous filming style. Constructing a purpose-built set allowed him to have more control over the logistics of the shoot and create the desired visual effects.

It’s worth noting that although “The Shining” wasn’t filmed at the Stanley Hotel, the hotel has embraced its association with the film and has become a popular destination for fans.

Visitors can take guided tours, stay in rooms that are reportedly haunted, and even participate in ghost hunts. The hotel’s connection to “The Shining” has undoubtedly added to its allure and intrigue. 

Estes Park, Colorado

Actual Filming Locations for The Shining

The iconic horror film, The Shining, based on Stephen King’s novel, has captivated audiences for decades. One of the most intriguing aspects of the film is its setting, which plays a crucial role in creating the eerie atmosphere.

While the Overlook Hotel is a fictional location, many scenes were filmed in real places, adding to the authenticity and mystique of the film.

Exterior Shots at Timberline Lodge

Although the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, was the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel, it was not used as a filming location for the movie.

Instead, the exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel were filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon. The lodge’s grand architecture and isolated location perfectly captured the essence of the Overlook Hotel, making it an ideal choice for the film.

The Timberline Lodge, which is still in operation today, offers visitors the opportunity to explore the filming locations and experience the eerie atmosphere firsthand. From the iconic hedge maze to the hotel’s interior, fans of The Shining can immerse themselves in the world of the film and relive some of its most memorable scenes.

Interior Sets Built at Elstree Studios

While the exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel were filmed at the Timberline Lodge, the interior sets were built at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. The production team meticulously recreated the various rooms and corridors of the hotel, including the infamous Room 237.

By building the sets at a studio, director Stanley Kubrick had complete control over the lighting, camera angles, and atmosphere of each scene. This allowed him to create the haunting visuals that have become synonymous with The Shining.

The attention to detail in the set design, combined with Kubrick’s visionary direction, contributed to the film’s enduring impact on audiences.

Visiting the Stanley Hotel in Colorado may not offer the exact filming locations from The Shining, but it provides an opportunity to explore the inspiration behind the iconic film. The hotel’s rich history and alleged paranormal activity have made it a popular destination for fans of the movie and enthusiasts of the supernatural.

Whether you’re a fan of The Shining or simply intrigued by its fascinating backstory, a visit to the Stanley Hotel is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

References to The Shining at the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado has become famous for its connection to the iconic horror film, The Shining. While the entire movie was not filmed at the hotel, there are several notable references that pay homage to the hotel’s role in inspiring Stephen King’s novel and the subsequent film adaptation.

Let’s explore some of these references and how they contribute to the hotel’s spooky reputation.

Room 217

One of the most significant references to The Shining at the Stanley Hotel is Room 217. This room is said to have been the inspiration for Stephen King’s Room 237 in the novel.

Interestingly, the hotel staff at the Stanley decided to keep the room number as 217 instead of changing it to 237, fearing that guests might be too afraid to stay in the room. Visitors can now book a stay in Room 217 and experience the eerie atmosphere that inspired King’s chilling tale.

Room 217

Annual Shining Halloween Party

Each year, the Stanley Hotel hosts a Halloween party that pays tribute to The Shining. This event has become a popular attraction for horror fans from around the world. Guests are encouraged to dress up as characters from the movie and participate in themed activities and contests.

The hotel even recreates iconic scenes from the film, adding to the immersive experience. It’s a spooky and fun way to celebrate the hotel’s connection to The Shining and indulge in the horror genre.

Tours and Exhibits

The Stanley Hotel offers guided tours that take visitors through the locations that inspired The Shining. These tours provide a fascinating insight into the history and architecture of the hotel, as well as the stories that inspired Stephen King’s novel.

Additionally, the hotel has exhibits dedicated to The Shining, showcasing memorabilia from the film and providing further context for fans and curious visitors. It’s a great opportunity to delve deeper into the world of The Shining and learn more about the Stanley Hotel’s role in its creation.


Even though the Stanley Hotel provided the initial inspiration for The Shining novel, none of the famous Stanley Kubrick film adaptation was actually shot there.

Yet the hotel still proudly showcases its connection to Stephen King and honors its role as the birthplace of one of the most renowned horror stories of all time.

So while visitors won’t find the actual Overlook Hotel from the movie, they can still immerse themselves in plenty of Shining tributes and history on the grounds of the magnificent Stanley Hotel.

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