The Stanley Hotel in Colorado Offers Both Views and Boos
Often regarded as one of the most haunted places in Colorado, the Stanley Hotel is a historic 142-room Colonial Revival masterpiece perched elegantly above Estes Park. But this hotel isn’t just a place where creaking floors and the effects of high-altitude get the best of the imagination; The Stanley also inspired Stephen King to write The Shining.
History of the Stanley Hotel
Completed in 1905 by Freelan Oscar Stanley, founder of the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, the hotel still serves as one of the area’s crown jewels. Estes Park is a quaint mountain town where the average value of a house currently hovers around $525k, and it has been a tourist attraction as far back as 1867. Before then, various Native American tribes including the Arapahos, Apaches, and Utes all spent time there hunting and enjoying the majesty of what is now Rocky Mountain National Park.
Needless to stay, it’s a place where people never want to leave, both living and dead. And that’s exactly what happened with Stanley and his wife Flora. They originally came to Estes Park after he contracted a very serious case of tuberculosis. The couple soon fell in love with the landscape and decided to build the hotel as a place where the wealthy could luxuriate. Rumor has it that they’re still enjoying their property decades after their deaths.
Most ghost stories require an on-site tragedy to invoke the paranormal, but that’s not the case with The Stanley. In 1940, F.O. Stanley passed away peacefully at the age of 91 in Massachusetts, but that hasn’t stopped current hotel staff from seeing his ghost checking guests in at the front desk. Others report hearing notes on the piano softly being played in an otherwise vacant music room. That’s supposedly the spirit of his wife, Flora, who enjoyed playing the piano when she was alive. Flora died a year before her husband at their personal residence in Estes Park. We must admire the couple’s otherworldly dedication to their beautiful hotel and its living guests.
Popular culture, on the other hand, paints a more terrifying portrait of the property. In 1973, Stephen King and his wife were passing through Estes Park during off-season and decided to stay at the Stanley Hotel. A small skeleton crew maintained the property, leaving King and his wife as the only guests. That’s when they realized that perhaps they were the only mortal guests.
"The orchestra was still there, and they were playing, but except for our table, all the chairs were on the tables...The music (was) echoing down the hall, and, I mean, it was like God had put me there to hear that and see those things,” King wrote about his visit.
That experience, amid other oddities in room 217, inspired King to write The Shining — his first hardback bestseller that was later immortalized by Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson in what many regard as one of the best horror films of all time. Besides the ghostly owners and a rogue orchestra from beyond the grave, it’s believed that a housekeeper who was electrocuted in room 217 during a lightning storm in 1911 pops in on visitors to this day.
Additionally, some hotel guests report finding their luggage mysteriously unpacked, hear footsteps and children playing in the hall despite nobody being there, and, of course, notice lights flickering on and off without explanation.
For those looking to add a little thrill to their stay, the Stanley Hotel offers “Spirited Rooms”, which include room 217 and others featured on A&E’s Ghost Hunters. They’re some of the hotel’s most popular rooms, so booking well in advance is recommended.
Can’t get a haunted room? Not to worry, any of the hotel rooms make for the perfect place to relax after a day up in Estes. Or, after a long day of showing houses, take your clients to the bar that was made famous by the film. We’ll take a bourbon, hold the ghostly bartender.
Ready to Make Your Real Estate Education Come Alive With The CE Shop?
Enroll in our Pre-Licensing program now to get your career started and begin connecting your fellow Coloradans with the real estate they’re looking for, or keep going strong with one of our comprehensive, 100% online Continuing Education packages. Want to hear more about what’s happening in Colorado and connect with other students? Join our Mountain West Facebook group!
*Hero image provided by The Travel