The inspiration for Stephen King's classic "The Shining," the 140-room Stanley Hotel is as much a tourist destination as a place for lodging. The hotel has fun with its haunted history by offering nightly ghost tours, an on-site psychic, and TVs that play the Jack Nicholson thriller 24 hours a day. Guest rooms, available in both the main building and the adjacent Lodge, are simply decorated with period-appropriate furniture and walk-in showers; due to the hotel's age, some maintenance issues are present and there's no air-conditioning, only fans. With an upscale restaurant, cafe, whiskey bar, spa, and multiple meeting spaces, the hotel has plenty to keep travelers occupied. It's a unique option for paranormal-seeking guests that don't mind sacrificing a few modern luxuries for a historic stay with views of the Rocky Mountains.
Historic 1909 property famous for paranormal activity and the inspiration for "The Shining"
Opened in 1909, the hotel was owned by Freelan Oscar Stanley of Stanley Steamer -- steam engine cars produced in the early 1900s. Stanley and his wife built the beautiful hotel to mimic their own East Coast mansion and appeal to the wealthy class. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel has kept many of its original features -- a huge porch with Rocky Mountain views, a grand staircase, and fireplaces throughout the property. Since the 1970s, the hotel has allegedly experienced paranormal activity, mostly from the deceased Stanley and his wife, in several guest rooms, the Billiards Room, and Music Room. In 1974, horror writer Stephen King stayed at the hotel for one night, which gave him inspiration for his book "The Shining."
The hotel is always bustling with guests and non-guests meandering the hotel to learn a bit of its history or partake in one of the hotel or ghost tours offered. It was also a filming location for "The Shining" TV mini-series and "Dumb and Dumber." In the summer of 2015, the hotel planted trees in a miniature maze formation to reference the King thriller. For a quieter stay, book a room in the adjacent Lodge building.
Prime location for travelers visiting Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park
The Stanley Hotel is situated in Estes Park, an area that's grown to be a thriving town in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. The downtown area is a five-minute drive or 15-minute walk away; there travelers will find ample restaurants and boutique stores. Many guests will use the hotel as a base for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, the entrance of which is a 15-minute drive away. There's ample hiking, fishing, skiing, and golfing within the area.
Boulder is an hour drive from the hotel and Denver International Airport is 90 minutes away by car.
Guest rooms are classically decorated in neutral tones with flat-screen TVs and comfy linens; several "haunted" rooms are available.
The guest rooms range from Classic to Three-Bedroom Condominiums, the latter of which are privately owned but operated by the Stanley. Rooms in the main building have retained their classic, somewhat bland style -- think wooden furniture, tan couches, and neutral-tone carpets. There are some downsides associated with the hotel's historic nature -- namely, no air-conditioning, only fans, some wear and tear, different layouts, and reports of maintenance issues. All rooms have comfy beds with white bedding, flat-screen TVs that have "The Shining" on continuous loop, work desks, and free Wi-Fi. Bathrooms have walk-in glass showers, copper sinks, and basic toiletries. Deluxe Rooms and above also have whirlpool bathtubs. Some rooms have lovely views of the Rocky Mountains.
Rooms in the adjacent Lodge building have the same design, but are reportedly quieter. The Lodge also serves a daily continental breakfast with pastries, granola, yogurt, and fruit. Guests can also request one of several rooms that allegedly have high paranormal activity. Stephen King stayed in Room 217.
An upscale steakhouse; whiskey bar; casual cafe; spa; and popular ghost tours
There are a few dining options at the hotel. The upscale Cascades restaurant is a classic American steakhouse open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a gorgeous space with a shiny copper ceiling and wood-paneled walls. Dishes include Colorado Game Meatloaf, Seared Ahi Tuna, and a Smoked Salmon & Vodka Pasta. Next to the main dining area is the Whiskey Bar, a marble-topped bar serving a variety of whiskey and other spirit cocktails, wine, and local draft beers. Food can also be ordered at the bar. Downstairs is the casual Steamer's Cafe, a grab-and-go eatery with pastries, sandwiches, smoothies, gelato, and coffee drinks.
The Amethyst Spa has several treatments available, including massages, facials, manicures, and hair stylings. The fitness center is small, with a handful of cardio machines and free weights.
Guests can also book a hotel tour, ghost tour, or an appointment with the resident psychic Madame Vera. Multiple meeting and event spaces are available. Unfortunately, some of the public areas are often closed due to the hotel constantly hosting weddings and corporate events.