The Spooky Hauntings of the Stanley Hotel: The Inspiration for The Shining

The Spooky Hauntings of the Stanley Hotel: The Inspiration for The Shining

The History of the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel’s story began in 1909 when it opened its doors in Estes Park, Colorado, the brainchild of inventor Freelan Oscar Stanley. The man who brought the world the Stanley Steamer automobile sought to create a grand resort that would cater to the health and leisure needs of the American elite. Perched at the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, the elegant hotel has hosted numerous famous guests over the years and has become an iconic landmark in its own right.

Connection with Stephen King’s “The Shining”

It was King’s stay in Room 217 in 1974 that would etch the Stanley Hotel’s name into the annals of horror lore. Struck by the hotel’s remote location and eerie ambiance as one of the last guests before the hotel would close for the winter, King conjured up the chilling plot of “The Shining” in a single night. The novel, published in 1977, centers around the tormented Jack Torrance, his psychic son Danny, and their haunting experiences at the fictional Overlook Hotel, inspired by the Stanley.

Evidence of the Paranormal

Guests and staff alike have reported a variety of supernatural occurrences at the Stanley Hotel for decades. Mysterious piano music is heard with no source, laughter and footsteps echo through empty halls, and spectral figures have been sighted wandering the grand old rooms. Room 217, where King stayed, is said to be a hotbed of activity, often attributed to the spirit of a former housekeeper who suffered a near-fatal injury there in the early 20th century.

Famous Ghostly Residents

The hotel is supposedly home to several otherworldly residents, including Flora Stanley, wife of the original owner, who continues to play the piano in the ballroom. Freelan himself is said to be seen overseeing the running of his hotel in the lobby and the billiard room. The ghost of a small boy, reportedly named Billy, occupies the second floor and, according to psychic mediums, likes to play with the hair of guests.

Paranormal Investigations and Tours

The Stanley Hotel has embraced its supernatural reputation, offering nightly ghost tours that share the history and hauntings of the premises. The hotel also occasionally hosts paranormal investigations, where guests and professional ghost hunters alike are given the chance to seek out spirits using various equipment. These events attract thousands of curious visitors each year, keen to experience the hotel’s otherworldly charm firsthand.

In Popular Culture

While Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of “The Shining” was not shot at the Stanley Hotel, the hotel played a prominent role in the 1997 television miniseries also based on the novel. Additionally, the hotel has been featured on numerous television shows and documentaries, cementing its status as one of America’s most haunted hotels. Its legacy in horror has not waned, continuing to inspire and terrify those who are drawn to its storied halls.


The Stanley Hotel stands as a testament to America’s love affair with the paranormal; its beautifully eerie atmosphere served as a perfect muse for Stephen King’s vision of horror in “The Shining”. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the legacy of the hauntings at the Stanley Hotel persists, inviting the brave and curious to explore its mysteries and maybe, encounter something beyond the veil.

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