The Haunted History of the Stanley Hotel, Estes Park
333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517, USACHECK AVAILABILITY
“Here’s Johnny!” The immortal line of Jack Nicholson in The Shining evokes images of horror. The hotel which inspired the movie evokes the same feelings in a lot of people.
This Estes Park haunted hotel is supposedly home to numerous ghosts, one being the past owner’s wife Flora. If you’re lucky enough, she may play you something on the piano.
Both guests and employees have reported various paranormal phenomena in the hotel. Two of the most frequently reported spirits are that of the past owner, F.O. Stanley, and his wife, Flora. It is reported that Flora continues to play the piano in the ballroom, which her husband gave her as a gift to celebrate the hotel’s opening.
Guests and employees of the hotel have reported hearing music coming from the ballroom on numerous occasions. Several people have also witnessed the piano keys moving on their own. Others have reported actually seeing the apparition of a woman sitting on the bench and playing the piano.
With ornate features, exquisite portraits, and huge mirrors, there’s much to distract you with on the Stanley Hotel’s grand staircase.
In 2016 a guest was snapping photos when they captured what looks to be an apparition of a woman in a black dress, standing at the top of the stairs. The guest claims there was nothing up there that could have caused such an anomaly.
Also dubbed “The Vortex”, by many, the staircase area is said to be a spiral of energy, which spirits can use to transport themselves rapidly throughout the hotel.
A popular spot with the ghost of the past owner’s wife, Flora, the concert hall is also the preferred hangout for another of the Stanley Hotel’s most famous ghosts, Paul.
Paul was a former hotel employee of the hotel. He didn’t have a specified role but he would do all the odd jobs, and tasks that weren’t covered by other employees’ roles. One of those tasks was to enforce an 11 PM curfew for guests, which is perhaps why people can often hear his disembodied voice demanding they “get out”.
Another ghost known to frequent the Concert Hall is that of Lucy, a homeless woman who sought refuge in the hall. Her ghost likes to interact with guests and has been known to respond on command via flashlights and knocks.
If you book one of the late-night ghost tours of the Stanley Hotel, your last stop will likely be the underground caves and tunnel system. This area is where hotel employees would move around the hotel undetected by guests, so it makes sense that there are a few brushes with spirits down there. The hotel is also built on a high concentration of limestone and quartz, which is believed to supercharge spirit energy.
The hotel’s fourth floor has had the most reports of activity, but strange noises, footsteps, voices, and other supernatural occurrences have been reported throughout the hotel.
Pretty much any room on the fourth floor has had some creepy occurrences. However, the most requested haunted rooms at the Stanley are Room 217, 401, 407, 418, and 428.
Without a doubt, the most famous room in the hotel is room 217. It’s where legendary horror writer Stephen King got his inspiration for his 1977 bestseller “The Shining”.
When King and his wife stayed at the Stanley one night in 1974, it was the end of the season, and they were the only guests, with only a handful of staff members.
They ate in an empty dining room in the evening serenaded by pre-recorded orchestra music, before heading back up to the eerily empty second floor.
During the night, King was suffering from a terrible nightmare about his 3-year-old son being chased around the empty hotel and screaming in terror. Waking up with a jump, he soon realized it was a dream, and headed out onto the balcony to light a cigarette, and thus the seed of the now-famous book was sowed.
During his stay, King also witnessed the ghost of a young child in the corridor outside his room.
Room 217 is haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Wilson, the hotel’s former head housekeeper. She likes to move items, unpack luggage, and switch lights on and off.
She’s a strict one and doesn’t seem to like unmarried couples sleeping in the same room. Past guests have reported a sudden cold force coming between them in bed.
Room 217 is as popular as you would expect and you can’t reserve it online, so you’ll need to call to reserve to see when it’s available. The cost to stay in room 217 is between $329 and $399 per night, taxes not included.
Perhaps the creepiest room in the hotel, and the supposed ‘favorite room’ of the Ghost Hunters cast, Room 401 features the infamous haunted closet.
Whilst filming for the Stanley Hotel episode, Jason Hawes was sleeping in this room when he awoke to the locked closet door opening by itself.
The room is reportedly haunted by an unfriendly male spirit. If you’re female just don’t stand in the closet alone, as others claim to have been touched inappropriately.
One former guest claimed to have seen his wedding ring lift up off the bathroom counter and drop down the drain in the bathroom sink.
Room 407 is another hive of activity. Several reports are of a spirit who likes turning the lights off and on. Unexplained noises have been reported in the room numerous times. A face has often been seen in the room’s window from guests looking up to the room whilst outside of the hotel.
As with other rooms on the fourth floor, the presence of children have been reported laughing and playing just outside the doors of the room.
Room 418 itself is apparently haunted by these ghost children, and they’re known to like playing games with guests. People have witnessed lights flickering, hangers moving on their own, and some guests have even had their bed covers yanked off them.
A four-year-old girl staying in this room with her mother told of a little boy tickling her feet in the middle of the night, but after asking him to stop he disappeared.
This could be the ghost of Billy, believed to be a little autistic boy who likes to roam the hotel and play with the hair of guests.
Rooms 428 is haunted by the ghost of a friendly cowboy. Nobody knows who he is, but they’ve witnessed his shadow at the foot of their beds and in the corner of the room. Some female guests have reported waking up to him kissing their foreheads.
Disembodied footsteps are often heard above this room, as well as the sound of furniture being dragged about. This is all the weirder as the slope of the roof would make it impossible for anyone to be up there walking around.
The hotel is named after its builder, Freeman Oscar Stanley, who was popular for the Stanley Streamer. The hotel opened on the 4th of July 1909, and back then, it catered to the rich and famous of Colorado and the entire United States. Some of the people who have been to the hotel included the survivor of the RMS Titanic, Molly Brown, Theodore Roosevelt, Japanese royalty, and countless Hollywood celebrities.
The hotel was built on 160 acres of land, which Stanley bought from the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. The hotel’s construction started in 1907. It was built with a Georgian architectural style. It had all the high-end amenities that would befit the kind of guests it aimed to attract during its opening. It had running water, telephones, and electricity, which was quite a luxury back then. The only thing which it did not have was heating. The hotel was designed as a summer resort, hence the lack of heating.
If you want the best chance to capture the paranormal at Stanley Hotel, it seems that any room on the fourth floor is your best bet.
Book a room and request your chosen room, though it’s recommended you book well in advance, as the haunted rooms above are extremely popular.