10 Facts About the Real-Life Hotel That Inspired "The Shining"
Did "The Shining" scar you for life the first time you saw it? Yeah, same. The classic horror movie has everything that could possibly creep you out and force you to run under your covers with no intention of ever resurfacing: supernatural forces, the slow-burning insanity of main character Jack Torrance, and, most importantly, an isolated hotel in the mountains as the backdrop for the terror that ensues. If only you could visit the Overlook Hotel and feel the bone-chilling energy of the movie for yourself . . . oh wait, you can.
While the Overlook Hotel from the movie doesn't actually exist, it is based on The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO: a 142-room colonial revival hotel nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Although parts of its interior have been renovated, the hotel still gives off a turn-of-the-century, ghostly energy that attracts tons of horror-movie fans every year. Constructed in 1909 as a resort for the upper-class society of the Northeast, the hotel has retained its historic facade and even offers "spirited" rooms with high paranormal activity for lovers of ghosts and everything occult. Ready to learn more about the hotel that inspired the classic film that gave basically everyone nightmares for life? Read on . . . if you dare.
Stephen King Was Inspired to Write the Book Because of a Nightmare He Had at the Hotel
In September 1974, Stephen King and his wife, Tabby, spent a night at The Stanley Hotel (room 217, to be exact) and were the only guests on the entire property. That night, King had a nightmare about his 3-year-old son running and screaming through the hotel's corridors being chased by a fire hose. According to King's website, he woke up "sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed." By the time he got up and finished a cigarette, he had the entire premise of the book mapped out in his head.
The Stanley Hotel Was Originally Constructed as a Place to Overcome Tuberculosis
In 1903, the inventor of the steam-powered car, Freelan Oscar Stanley, became afflicted with tuberculosis. The most recommended treatment was fresh, dry air and sunlight, so Stanley naturally headed to the Rocky Mountains with his wife, Flora. As his health improved dramatically, he decided to turn Estes Park into a resort town for people looking to regain their health and for the elite of the East Coast just looking to relax in the mountains. And just like that, The Stanley Hotel was born.
The Stanley Hotel Experienced a Gas Explosion in 1911
When The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909, it was known to be one of the few hotels in the world to be completely powered by modern electricity. However, because the property was so isolated, they had to install an auxiliary gas lighting system that exploded in 1911. Part of the hotel was wrecked, injuring eight people and hurling hotel maid Elizabeth Wilson from the second to the first floor, breaking both of her ankles. The interesting part? She was hurled down from room 217 — the same room King and his wife stayed in.
Reports of Paranormal Activity Started After the Explosion
King mostly relied on fictional inspiration and did not have an experience with the spirit world at The Stanley Hotel, but reports of paranormal activity at the property started in 1911, right after the explosion. The hotel now offers a Spirited Night Tour that takes you to the dark edges of the hotel, during which you can hear more of the hotel's paranormal stories.
The Hotel's Founders Can Reportedly Still Be Seen Roaming Around the Property
Although The Stanley Hotel founder and his wife died in 1940 and 1939, respectively, they never seem to have truly gone away, at least according to several hotel visitors. Freelan's ghost has reportedly been seen hovering behind employees at the reception desk, and Flora can still be heard playing the piano in the hotel's music room.
If You Decide to Visit The Stanley Hotel, Prepare For Strange Occurrences
Apart from sightings of the hotel's founders, every single room in the hotel has experienced a spooky, sinister event. Reports include clothes being mysteriously unpacked, lights going on and off, and objects moving on their own. Guests have even reported hearing children's laughter or the sound of someone running down the halls on the famously "spirited" fourth floor. The Stanley Hotel employees assure guests that their ghosts are "happy ghosts," but that's certainly open to interpretation.
You Can Book a Stay in The Stanley Hotel's "Spirited" Rooms
Because of its fame as a haunted resort, The Stanley Hotel offers the opportunity to book specific rooms on the "active" fourth floor. What does it mean by "active," you ask? Guests have most frequently reported paranormal activity there, particularly in rooms 401, 407, and 428. Another "spirited room" (and the most requested on the property) is the Stephen King Suite 217. Fun fact: the hotel estimates that the 217 number plate on the door gets stolen once a week. (At least possible perpetrators can blame it on a ghost?)
The Stanley Hotel Was Not Where "The Shining" Was Filmed, Contrary to Stephen King's Wishes
Although "The Shining" is a critically lauded film with a performance by Jack Nicholson that will go down in history, King wasn't happy with the way Stanley Kubrick directed the movie version of his book. He particularly took issue with Kubrick's decision not to film at The Stanley Hotel, which inspired the story. Kubrick made the decision to film in Hertfordshire, England, with some scenes in Montana and Oregon, since The Stanley lacked sufficient snow and electricity. Still, King was not pleased with the final product of the film and made it clear in several interviews. The exterior of the hotel shown in the film is actually Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, OR.
In Response, Stephen King Supervised a Miniseries Based on "The Shining" and Made It His Way
After being so dissatisfied with Kubrick's film, King decided to write and produce a television adaptation of "The Shining" in 1997. This time, it was filmed at The Stanley Hotel, which was always King's wish. However, modern critics' consensus is that the TV version pales in comparison to Kubrick's now-classic film.
The Stanley Hotel Built a Hedge Maze in Honor of the Film
With ghosts, moving objects, and a paranormal past, The Stanley Hotel was just missing one thing: the hedge maze that appears in the movie's famous chase scene. To celebrate 20 years of owning The Stanley Hotel, John W. Cullen decided to build the maze for his spirit-hunting guests — or visitors in the mood for an intense game of hide-and-seek.