Stanley Hotel

History Uncovered Episode 10:
Inside The Real-Life ‘Shining’ Hotel

Published September 29, 2023

Discover the alleged hauntings and other eerie happenings that define the history of Colorado's Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for The Shining.

In October 1974, ascendant horror writer Stephen King and his wife spent a night in a cavernous old hotel at the foot of the Colorado Rockies. With the winter barrage of snow and cold looming, the hotel was about to close for the season, leaving King and his wife as its sole guests. After eating in a grand yet empty dining room — with the chairs up on every table except his — and walking through the endless empty hallways, a new novel began to take shape in King’s mind.

That night, King had a terrifying dream about his son being chased through the hotel’s halls by a fire hose, and immediately after, he knew he had to write. As King later said, “I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.”⁠

That book was the 1977 classic The Shining, which was adapted into an acclaimed film by Stanley Kubrick three years later. Though they vary significantly, both the book and the film follow a writer who becomes the winter caretaker at Colorado’s isolated Overlook Hotel in the hopes of curing his creative dry spell.

He brings along his wife and young son, who has a singular psychic ability to see the hotel’s gory, haunted past. Not long into their stay, the father is pulled into this past by malevolent spirits, putting both his wife and son in grave danger.

Room 217 Of The Stanley Hotel

@StanleyHotel/XRoom 217, where Stephen King stayed at the Stanley Hotel.

While The Shining dives headlong into the paranormal happenings at the fictional Overlook Hotel, there are plenty of equally terrifying stories surrounding the real-life Stanley Hotel, where King first conceived of the book nearly 50 years ago.

Visitors claim to hear children laughing and running down the halls at night. Others say they can feel spirits playing with their hair. In Room 407, it is purported that the previous owner of the property, Lord Dunraven, stands by the bathroom door and switches the lights on and off.

In 2017, a family on vacation at the hotel even inadvertently captured what looked like the ghosts of two little girls on the main stairway while on a “spirit tour.” The tourists all maintain that there were no children on their tour that night. Others have reported waking up in the evening to the feeling of someone sitting on their mattress, only to find no one there.

The Stanley remains open to this day and continues to attract fans of the book who want to experience a taste of the paranormal for themselves.

Go inside the chilling history of the Stanley Hotel.

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