From the overlook hotel in The Shining to the haunted resort of 1408, hotels are classic horror movie settings. But are any of these terrifying on-screen hotels actually inspired by real places with disturbing histories?

In short, while many iconic hotel horror films are pure fiction, some do originate from spine-tingling true events and locations. Notable examples where real-life hotels fueled big-screen scares include The Changeling, Psycho, and The Innkeepers.

The Changeling and the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion

Plot summary of the 1980 horror film

The Changeling, released in 1980, is a psychological horror film directed by Peter Medak. The story revolves around John Russell, a composer played by George C. Scott, who moves into a secluded mansion after the tragic death of his wife and daughter.

As John tries to rebuild his life, he begins to experience paranormal activities in the house. With the help of a local historian, he uncovers a dark secret that connects his own tragedy to the haunting of the mansion.

Connections to the haunted history of the real Denver mansion

The Changeling is based on the chilling true story of the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion, located in Denver, Colorado. This historic mansion has a dark and haunted past that has intrigued paranormal enthusiasts for decades.

The real mansion was known for its eerie occurrences, including unexplained voices, phantom footsteps, and objects moving on their own. These hauntings were believed to be connected to the tragic death of a young child in the house many years ago.

The filmmakers of The Changeling drew inspiration from the real-life haunted history of the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion. They incorporated elements of the paranormal activities and the tragic backstory into the plot of the film, creating a chilling and suspenseful experience for viewers.

How the true story shaped the movie

The true story of the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion served as the foundation for The Changeling, providing a captivating backdrop for the film’s plot. The filmmakers were able to tap into the fear and fascination surrounding haunted houses and ghostly encounters, creating a compelling narrative that resonated with audiences.

The success of The Changeling can be attributed to the effective blending of supernatural elements and psychological suspense. By infusing the story with real-life haunted history, the filmmakers were able to create a sense of authenticity and credibility, making the horror even more chilling for viewers.

If you’re interested in learning more about the haunting of the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion, you can visit for more information.

Psycho and the Bates Motel

Overview of the Alfred Hitchcock classic

Released in 1960, “Psycho” is a psychological horror film directed by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. It tells the story of Norman Bates, a disturbed motel owner with a deeply unsettling relationship with his mother.

The film is known for its iconic shower scene and its twist ending, which shocked audiences at the time. “Psycho” is widely regarded as one of Hitchcock’s greatest works and has had a lasting influence on the horror genre.

Inspiration from murderer Ed Gein’s isolated house

One of the most chilling aspects of “Psycho” is the Bates Motel, where much of the film takes place. The motel was inspired by the real-life crimes of Ed Gein, a notorious murderer and grave robber. Gein’s isolated farmhouse, located in Plainfield, Wisconsin, was filled with macabre decorations made from human remains.

The discovery of his crimes in the 1950s shocked the nation and became the inspiration for several horror films, including “Psycho.”

Resemblance to the Fairview Lodge in Wisconsin

While the Bates Motel is a fictional location, it bears a striking resemblance to the Fairview Lodge in Wisconsin. This dilapidated building, located in Hayward, Wisconsin, has a haunting ambiance that evokes memories of the Bates Motel.

Visitors to the Fairview Lodge often report feeling a sense of unease and uneasiness, adding to its mysterious allure. The lodge’s eerie atmosphere and connection to the true story of Ed Gein make it a must-visit for fans of “Psycho” and true crime enthusiasts.

For more information on the real-life inspiration behind “Psycho” and the Bates Motel, you can visit for an in-depth article on the subject.

The Innkeepers based on the Yankee Pedlar Inn

Review of the 2011 paranormal film

The Innkeepers, released in 2011, is a chilling paranormal film that is based on the reputedly haunted Yankee Pedlar Inn. Directed by Ti West, this horror movie follows the story of two employees, Claire and Luke, who work at the inn during its last weekend before closing down.

As they explore the inn’s dark secrets, they encounter supernatural occurrences that leave them terrified.

The Innkeepers received positive reviews from both critics and audiences, praised for its slow-burn tension and atmospheric storytelling. The movie effectively builds suspense, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats until the shocking climax.

If you are a fan of ghost stories and enjoy being spooked, The Innkeepers is definitely a film worth watching.

Filmed on location at the reputedly haunted Connecticut inn

What makes The Innkeepers even more intriguing is that it was filmed on location at the real-life Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut. The inn itself has a long history dating back to the 1890s, and it is believed to be haunted by several spirits.

The filmmakers took advantage of the inn’s eerie atmosphere and incorporated it into the movie, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the terrifying story.

During the filming of The Innkeepers, the cast and crew reportedly experienced strange occurrences and unexplained phenomena, further adding to the film’s unsettling vibe. This real-life connection to the haunted inn adds a sense of realism to the movie and gives viewers a glimpse into the true horror that inspired the story.

Nods to the Yankee Pedlar’s ghostly past

The Innkeepers not only uses the Yankee Pedlar Inn as its setting but also pays homage to its ghostly past. Throughout the film, there are references to the inn’s haunted reputation and its history of ghostly encounters.

These nods to the real-life stories and legends surrounding the inn add depth to the movie and create a sense of intrigue for those familiar with its haunted history.

For those interested in learning more about the actual haunted experiences at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, there are numerous websites and articles available that detail the paranormal encounters reported by guests and staff.

These firsthand accounts offer a chilling glimpse into the supernatural events that inspired the film.

Other Films Connected to Real-Life Hotels

While “The Shining,” “Psycho,” and “The Exorcist” are undoubtedly some of the most iconic horror movies set in hotels, there are other films that draw inspiration from real-life hotels and their chilling histories.

These movies take the concept of horror and suspense to a whole new level by incorporating elements from actual locations and events. Let’s take a closer look at some of these films and the hotels that inspired them.

The Shining and the Stanley Hotel correlations

One of the most well-known connections between a horror film and a real-life hotel is “The Shining” and its ties to the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, served as the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel and was also used as the filming location for the exterior shots in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation.

Visitors to the hotel can even take a “spirit tour” that explores the paranormal activity and eerie history associated with the property.

While the supernatural elements of “The Shining” are purely fictional, the eerie atmosphere and the haunting beauty of the Stanley Hotel undoubtedly played a significant role in capturing the essence of the story.

It’s fascinating to see how a real-life hotel can become such an integral part of a horror film’s legacy.

Exorcist influences from the Alexius Brothers Hospital

Another film that draws inspiration from a real-life location is “The Exorcist,” which is loosely based on a true story. While the film primarily takes place in Georgetown, Washington D.C., the Alexius Brothers Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, is said to have influenced the filmmakers.

The hospital, known for its dark history and alleged paranormal activity, adds an extra layer of authenticity to the supernatural occurrences depicted in the movie.

Although the events of “The Exorcist” are fictionalized, the connection to a real-life location with its own chilling tales contributes to the overall sense of dread and terror experienced by the audience. It’s a testament to the power of incorporating real-life elements into horror films.

Possible role of the Cecil Hotel in American Horror Story: Hotel

American Horror Story: Hotel, the fifth season of the popular anthology series, takes place in the fictional Hotel Cortez. However, it is widely believed that the inspiration for the hotel’s eerie ambiance and dark history comes from the infamous Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Cecil Hotel has a long and disturbing history, including being the residence of serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker.

While the connections between American Horror Story: Hotel and the Cecil Hotel are speculative, the similarities in their unsettling histories cannot be ignored. Both locations have seen their fair share of tragedy and intrigue, making them perfect sources of inspiration for a horror series.

It’s fascinating to see how these films draw inspiration from real-life hotels and their chilling histories. Whether it’s the Stanley Hotel’s connection to “The Shining,” the influence of the Alexius Brothers Hospital on “The Exorcist,” or the possible role of the Cecil Hotel in American Horror Story: Hotel, these films demonstrate the power of incorporating real-life elements into the horror genre.

So the next time you watch a horror movie set in a hotel, remember that there may be more truth to the story than you initially thought.

Why Real Hotels Make Compelling Settings

When it comes to horror movies, the choice of setting can greatly impact the overall experience for the audience. Real hotels, with their unique blend of history, elegance, and mystery, make for particularly compelling backdrops. Here are a few reasons why:

Builds on established mystique and lore

Real hotels often carry a sense of mystique and lore that has built up over time. Whether it’s rumors of ghost sightings or stories of unexplained phenomena, these hotels have a reputation that adds an extra layer of intrigue.

Filmmakers can tap into this existing mystique and use it to create an atmosphere of tension and fear, making the horror movie even more chilling for the audience.

One example of a hotel with a rich history and plenty of mystique is the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. Known for inspiring Stephen King’s “The Shining,” this iconic hotel has a long history of paranormal activity, making it the perfect setting for a horror movie.

Relatable, familiar setting for audiences

Hotels are a familiar setting for many people. Whether it’s a luxurious resort or a quaint bed and breakfast, audiences can easily relate to the atmosphere and surroundings of a hotel. This relatability enhances the audience’s immersion in the story and makes the horror feel more personal and immediate.

Think about it – we’ve all stayed in hotels at some point in our lives. We know the feeling of being in a strange place, the creaking floors, and the unsettling silence of the hallways. This familiarity allows horror movies set in hotels to tap into our deepest fears and create a truly terrifying experience.

Creative freedom to adapt the true stories

One of the advantages of basing horror movies on true stories is that it provides a foundation of authenticity. Real hotels with chilling histories provide filmmakers with a wealth of material to draw from.

They can take these true stories, add their own creative twists and turns, and create a narrative that is both terrifying and unique.

For example, the movie “1408” is based on a short story by Stephen King, which in turn was inspired by the real-life experiences of guests at the Dolphin Hotel in New York City. By adapting these true stories, filmmakers can create a sense of realism that adds an extra layer of terror to the movie.


While fictional hotels carry their own scares, horror films grounded in real-life haunted hotels leverage extra creepiness. The dark histories underlying hotels like the Yankee Pedlar Inn demonstrate that truth can be as frightening as fiction when it comes to memorable cinematic horror settings.

Blending imagination with traces of actual events, these films showcase how real hotels continue to fuel Hollywood horror.

Similar Posts