33 Photos That Show Why The Stanley Hotel Is One Of The Creepiest Places On Earth

Published September 14, 2022
Updated March 8, 2024

Take a peek inside Stanley Hotel, the haunted Colorado resort that inspired Stephen King's The Shining — if you dare.

Stanley Hotel Under Construction
The Shining Hotel Carriages
Women At The Stanley Hotel
Portrait Of Dunraven
33 Photos That Show Why The Stanley Hotel Is One Of The Creepiest Places On Earth
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In October 1974, ascendant horror writer Stephen King and his wife spent a night at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, at the foot of the 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 King ate in a grand yet empty dining room — with the chairs up on every table except his own — and walked through the seemingly endless empty hallways, a new novel slowly began to take shape in his mind.

Later that night, King had a terrifying dream about his son being chased through the hotel's halls by a fire hose. As soon as he woke up, he knew that he had to write. "I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies," King said, "and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind."

That book, The Shining, introduced the Stanley Hotel to an entirely new generation. Soon, this faded remnant of early 20th-century high life was reborn as the "Shining Hotel." And once new guests step inside the Stanley, they realize just how much life both does and does not imitate art.

See some of the most chilling images of the "Shining Hotel" in the photo gallery above. Then, learn more about its history below below.

The Early Heyday Of The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel wasn't always considered the stuff of horror legends. First constructed in 1909 by wealthy entrepreneur Freelan Oscar (F.O.) Stanley, the resort was meant to be a luxurious retreat for moneyed travelers.

Boasting a casino, a trap shooting range, a billiard room, a stunning veranda, a grand staircase, and even an airfield, the hotel drew in plenty of Stanley's wealthy friends from the East Coast and elsewhere. But the resort also attracted several guests who were deemed "unsuitable" by Stanley.

Founder Of The Stanley Hotel

Wikimedia CommonsFreelan Oscar Stanley, the businessman behind the Stanley Hotel.

The high-society image of the Stanley Hotel was so important to its founder that he would personally sit in the lobby and turn potential customers away if he didn't approve of their presence. He even did this during World War I, when the hotel and the tourism industry as a whole were suffering.

Still, it seemed as though Stanley believed that his methods paid off. The hotel ended up hosting some of the world's most prestigious travelers, such as U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Emperor Hirohito of Japan. But after Stanley died in 1940, the hotel's glorious image began to fade.

The Spine-Tingling Reputation Of The "Shining Hotel"

By the time Stephen King visited the Stanley Hotel in 1974, the resort was struggling to attract tourists. But when King's famous novel was published just a few years later — and new management moved into the resort — people soon became interested in staying at the hotel again.

Though the 1980 film The Shining was not filmed at the Stanley Hotel — the exterior shots in the movie were done at Oregon's Timberline Lodge and the interior scenes were done at a film studio — word quickly spread about the real "Shining Hotel" that had actually inspired King to write his book.

The Shining Hotel

John Greim/LightRocket via Getty ImagesToday, the "Shining Hotel" is famous for its alleged paranormal activity.

Naturally, horror enthusiasts were eager to explore Room 217, the room that King had stayed in during his visit (and the one that was haunted in his novel). According to the hotel's website, that's still one of the most-requested rooms to this day. But new hotel guests were also delighted to hear that King was far from the only person who had an unsettling experience at the Stanley — and that other rooms were potentially haunted.

From claims about the spirit of F.O. Stanley roaming his billiard room to allegations of a ghostly thief stealing guests' belongings in Room 401, the "Shining Hotel" is widely rumored to be a hotbed of paranormal activity. It's little wonder why it remains a top destination for ghost hunters today.

After this look inside the Stanley Hotel, discover the spooky history of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. Then, explore more of the scariest haunted hotels.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Kuroski, John. "33 Photos That Show Why The Stanley Hotel Is One Of The Creepiest Places On Earth." AllThatsInteresting.com, September 14, 2022, https://allthatsinteresting.com/stanley-hotel. Accessed June 12, 2024.