Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel provides accommodations nestled among Colorado’s amazing Rocky Mountains. Located at 7,500 feet of elevation in Estes Park, the historic hotel has been welcoming guests since 1909. Now a part of the Historic Hotels of America, the Stanley continues to offer top-flight service and elegant accommodations, but that’s just the beginning of the story. The hotel is also known for its grand architecture as well as its ghost stories. It also has the distinction of being the inspiration for “The Shining,” the Stephen King novel turned into the iconic movie starring Jack Nicholson.

Stanley Hotel Estes Park History

Stanley Hotel Estes Park History
Stanley Hotel Estes Park History  Image: seantoyer (flickr)

The hotel’s namesake, Freelan Oscar Stanley, followed the advice to head west in 1903, seeking a cure for tuberculosis. He traveled to Colorado with the fortune he made in the automobile industry. His Stanley Steamers, complete with steam-powered engines, were some of the most successful vehicles before Henry Ford’s assembly line made the gasoline engine the way to go. In the early years of the 20th century, Estes Park, the future home of Rocky Mountain National Park, was a quiet little place with few amenities. Stanley set out to change that. He built a home for he and his wife, Cora, to live in, which remains a private residence today. But he needed a place where his friends and other visitors could stay.

Construction on the hotel began in 1907. Local wood and rock were used to craft the hotel in the Georgian style of architecture so popular at the time. After the lodging property opened in 1907, many distinguished guests came to stay, including Theodore Roosevelt and Denver socialite Margaret Brown. She’s best remembered at the Unsinkable Molly Brown, thanks to surviving the sinking of the Titanic. In the 1970s, Stephen King stayed in room 217. The hotel, already known for its ghost stories, was nearly empty that night before it closed for an extended period and felt extra spooky that night. The idea for the novel was sparked, and the Stanley Hotel Estes Park became the inspiration for the fictional Overlook Hotel in King's novel "The Shining."

Accommodations & Dining

Accommodations & Dining
Accommodations & Dining

Whether you’re there to look for ghosts or you just want to stay in an elegant hotel, the Stanley will provide welcoming accommodations. The various accommodations are spread over the main hotel, and adjacent lodge, and condominiums. All of the rooms are comfortable and well-equipped with such perks as 42-inch flat-screen TVs and pillow-top mattresses. The rooms and suites also come with complimentary wireless Internet access, and dogs are welcome to stay for an additional fee. When it’s time to dine, the on-site steakhouse serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with fresh, local favorites. The Stanley Hotel is also home to a whiskey bar and a covered patio where you can enjoy your drinks.

Activities

Hotel guests have a long list of thing to enjoy both on the property and nearby in the national park. After all, Estes Park is one of Colorado’s top playgrounds. On site, you’ll have the chance to stroll through a sculpture garden or take a more extended hike. In the summertime, local students release butterflies and lead educational sessions for Stanley Hotel visitors on garden tours.

Stanley Hotel Hauntings

Stanley Hotel Hauntings
Stanley Hotel Hauntings  Image: Nomadic Lass (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0

Guests and day visitors often enjoy embarking on tours of the Stanley Hotel Estes Park. A guide can join a small group for a spooky trip through the hotel’s history with plenty of ghost stories along the way. Those really interested in all things paranormal will appreciate the extended ghost-hunt experiences. Most of the tours stop in Stanley Hotel Room 217, the very place where Stephen King stayed, and some of the other haunted rooms. In all rooms, the 1977 movie plays on a contentious loop on one of the TV channels for those who want to see the spooky film.  

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