Halloween is my favorite time of year. I have always loved all things spooky and ghostly. This has also impacted our travels, since I will look for spooky or unusual places to encounter in our travels.
My all time favorite spooky place we have been to is the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.You may recognize the hotel as the incredibly famous, supposedly-haunted hotel that inspired Stephen King to write his novel, The Shining. It is a beautiful old hotel in the mountains of Colorado near Rocky Mountain National Park. Staying at this hotel is high on the bucket list for those who enjoy haunted places.
We booked our stay at the Stanley Hotel after spotting a deal on their email newsletter. Z and I traveled to Estes Park with my sister, E, and her fiancee, T. We checked in to our two bed hotel room, and enjoyed the iron bed frame, old fashioned curtains and bathroom, and the incredible views of the mountains. The best part of the room though, by far was the TV. TV? Yup, you read that right. An older television was in the corner of the room, it only had a few channels. We rarely even turn on the TV while we travel, so what makes this one so incredible? The fact that it played Stanley Kubrick’s version of ‘The Shining’ on an endless loop on one of the channels. (Even though I prefer the 90s mini-series version of ‘The Shining,’ this was still pretty awesome).
We explored the hotel at length during our stay, and there are a lot of fun things to discover. We highly recommended signing up for a ghost tour at the concierge desk as soon as you check in, it was well worth the time and money. I’ll talk about the ghost tour more in a minute, because there were some other fun things in the hotel. In the lower level, they had cases with newspaper articles and pictures of the cast and crew when the 90s mini-series version of ‘The Shining’ was partially filmed at the hotel. They also had an old guest book, and we perused the names on the pages.In the hotel, there are quite a few parallels to the novel. The elevator is a gated and gold-colored relic of the past. The sprawling ballroom and carpeted halls do give off an ominous sense. The grounds are beautiful and surrounded by the mountains, though the hotel is far from isolated. Elk often make camp on the lawn in the mornings, and are a tourist attraction unto themselves.
Alright, to the ghost tour. The four of us took the ghost tour around the hotel. It was neat to see the different areas of the hotel, and hear the history of certain areas, as well as some rumors and guest experiences. There were a few places in the hotel that stick out in my memory. The music room is supposed to be haunted, and both workers and guests report hearing music playing or singing coming from this room at different times when it has been completely empty. The mirrors, light, and single entryway to this room add an ethereal, but foreboding feeling. On the tour we visited two guest rooms; one where Stephen King stayed when he stayed at the Stanley and one where the guys from the ‘Ghost Hunters’ television show stayed and had some creepy encounters with a door closing and a glass breaking. We also visited a tunnel in the basement of the hotel that was carved out of rock, and is potentially haunted by a worker who was injured or killed in the basement. We enjoyed the tour and hearing the stories and the history of the hotel.
Later that night, we had fun taking pictures in the bar, and I enjoyed a Redrum beer, served by a bartender in fancy clothes. We laughed a lot throughout the day, but I know I did feel scared, or at least unnerved, at times. We had a really restless night; none of us slept well. We didn’t have any firsthand experiences with the supernatural, but I was also a little relieved by that too. It also turns out I wasn’t the only one who had weird dreams that night (maybe the TV had something to do with it).
Staying at The Stanley Hotel was definitely an experience to remember. They may glam it up for tourists with the ghost tour, Redrum beer, and photos/news articles, but the building does have a vibe to it. It has age, and you can imagine the isolation of being in a hotel like that after season, when the hotel is closed up and the snow has moved in. Of the large rooms with wood covered walls and carpeting, creating echos of sound. Of history that leaves an impact on a place. Bonus content! If you made it all the way to the end of this post, there is a little secret we encountered at the hotel. After talking with the concierge a while longer after the ghost tour, we were told about a small pet cemetery on the property. We explored and did find a few small grave markers, one of which was pretty old. E and I got pretty creeped out, and we left after taking a few pictures. I won’t say any more about the exact location, because it seemed like compared to other things at the hotel, it wasn’t an area they liked having tourists encounter. So if you are lucky and adventurous, maybe you’ll find it.