The Stanley Hotel
Freelan Oscar Stanley built and opened the Stanley Hotel in 1909. It’s bold architecture is striking against the stunning and scenic backdrop of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. However, it’s location was strategically chosen to assist Mr. Stanley with a bout of tuberculosis. Fresh air was the main and only form of treatment for the disease at the time.
For over 100 years the Stanley Hotel has catered to upperclass vacationers, but today it is mostly known for its close association with darkness. Many know the Stanley Hotel as one of America’s most haunted places and it’s relationship with the horror genre as being the inspiration for Stephen King’s best selling horror novel ‘The Shining.’
The Notorious Room 217
The Stanley Hotel’s most famous and requested room is without a doubt Room 217. It gained notoriety after famed horror writer, Stephen King, spent the night with his wife at the Stanley Hotel back in 1974. This night would forever change the image of the Hotel.
King and his wife arrived just before the hotel shut down for the Winter months, but were luckily able to spend the night. They were placed in the presidential suite (#217), being the only room left with clean bedsheets. Since the hotel was in the process of shutting down there were no other guests checked in and the King’s had the entire hotel to themselves.
Stephen King spent a great deal of time drinking whiskey at the Stanley’s famous bar before taking a walk to explore the hotel and retreating to his room. It is fabled that he ran into two children on the fourth floor. A sight he thought was strange since there were no other guests staying at the hotel. He was to find out soon after that these children also did not belong to any of the staff members working at the premises.
After retiring to his room and falling asleep King has a dramatic dream which caused him to wake in fright. He had noticed a fire hose in the hallway just before entering his room and dreamt that his young son was strangled to death by this very object. After waking and feeling quite spooked, King got up for a cigarette. By the time he had finished that cigarette he had the story for his best selling and now movie adapted novel, ‘The Shining’, fleshed out in his head.
While this legend is often associated with Room 217, it also has its own ghost story. This story begins in 1911 when the Stanley Hotel was powered by gas lighting. During a severe storm this power was lost and a maid was to enter Room 217 to investigate. Elizabeth Wilson caused an explosion upon entering the room with a candle, partly destroying that area of the hotel and sending her crashing through the floor, landing on the floor below and breaking her ankle. Elizabeth survived the explosion and went on to live the rest of her happy and long life.
Many now believe that she has returned to the hotel in death and has taken a liking to hanging around Room 217. Guests have reported that their belongings will become unpacked during their stay in this room, objects will move around on their own and the disembodied voice of a woman can be heard during the night. Some have also claimed to see the apparition of Elizabeth walking through Room 217 and exiting straight through a wall, which was once a doorway.
Ghosts of The Haunted Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel rests on a bed of quartz and limestone, which many believe to be responsible for helping spirits energy remain strong within the building. This is just one theory that attempts to explain the high instances of paranormal activity within the haunted Stanley Hotel.
The Lobby, Whiskey Bar, Music Room and Concert Hall
The Stanley’s are thought to still linger within the hotel that they built. Freelan Oscar Stanley has been sighted all throughout the hotel, yet is most frequently seen inside the hotel’s bar. Many of the staff believe that he is still looking after operations of his hotel and they claim to be able to feel his presence around them. Freelan’s wife, Flora, was an avid musician during life and some say she continues her hobby of playing the piano at the hotel. Phantom sounds of piano music when nobody is around have been reported from both the Music Room and the Concert Hall at the Stanley Hotel.
A favorite spot for capturing apparitions within photos is the grand staircase of the Stanley Hotel, which proudly greets guests as they walk through the front doors. Several photos of a woman dressed in turn of the century garb on the stairs have been captured here.
The Fourth Floor
The fourth floor is said to be the most haunted within the Stanley Hotel. This area was once where the maid’s quarters were located and it is thought that many of their children still reside in that area. The ghostly sounds of children playing, giggling and running up and down the hallways are frequently reported by guests, even when living children are not around. Notably haunted rooms include 401, which is supposedly haunted by Lord Dunraven (former owner of the land) and features a closet that opens and closes on its own accord. Room 428 is also a paranormal hotspot, having furniture which moves around by itself and the ghost of a cowboy who watches you sleeping from the foot of the bed.
Another hotspot for activity is actually underneath the hotel in a cave system. This was used by former staff to navigate the hotel. It is thought that some of the former employees continue to linger here, including that of a former chef. He is thought responsible for the smells of home-baked goods wafting through what is referred to as The Tunnel. This tunnel is also rumored to be the hang out spot for a deceased cat. Many have encountered this grey ghostly feline, which has bright green glowing eyes.
The Concert Hall
Said to be the most haunted spot on the Stanley Hotel’s grounds is the Concert Hall. It is thought to be haunted by several spirits. One of these is a former employee named Paul who worked as a handy man in the 1980’s. Paul took great pride in his work and it was no surprise that he returned to his place of work in death. He is thought to communicate with people who have captured EVP’s of a male voice stating ‘get out.’ He also has his own room in the basement level of the Concert Hall, where he usually interacts with male guests.
Just across from Paul’s room is another, also occupied by a ghostly resident. This spirit is known as Lucy. She is rumored to have been a homeless woman who died in this spot from exposure to the cold, yet her origin is truly unknown. She apparently communicates with paranormal enthusiasts visiting the Stanley Hotel and has befriended some of the young children spirits, who also frequent her room.
Strangely, the Stanley Hotel also contains an object, not original to the hotel, but supposedly extremely haunted. This object is stored in the basement of the Concert Hall and referred to as the ‘Creepy Mirror’ by tour guides. It is quite an old antique piece, being older than the Stanley Hotel itself, yet its origins are not known. It is thought that this mirror contains some sort of energy trapped within it. Many guests over the years have captured figures and apparitions standing next to them when taking photos of their reflection in the mirror. These figures are creepily not apparent to the naked eye.
Visiting the Haunted Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel has been immortalized as one of the most haunted places in the world. For anyone with an interest in the paranormal or a connection to horror films or fiction, the Stanley Hotel is a must visit. During my stay I was able to book Room 217! Make sure to request ahead of time to grab this room. Special requests for it can only be made over the phone. It is a little on the pricier side, yet was worth the cost for me to be able to tick that off my bucket list. Be prepared to have tour groups and visitors looking for a Room 217 selfie drop by at all hours of your stay. I was able to have some fun with this by banging and rattling the door and handle as they approached. You’ll be able to watch their scared reactions through the peep hole of the door.
During my night inside Room 217 I was able to gain an intelligent response through my Spirit Box and heard some taps on the wall during the early hours of the morning. Let me know in the comments below if you have had your own paranormal experiences inside the Stanley Hotel.
Make sure to explore as much of the hotel as possible. The Tunnel and the Concert Hall are only accessible by taking a guided tour. The day time history tour will cover tales including Stephen King. The night time paranormal tour mostly centered on the Concert Hall and The Tunnel. I was surprised not to hear any stories of the upstairs hotel rooms.
Finally, make sure to check out the amazing bar. You’ll find some delicious eats and some ‘The Shining’ inspired drinks. I tried both the Redrum Punch cocktail and the Redrum Ale, which is locally brewed. Both were great.
This has to be one of my favorite places to explore! Looking for more hotels related to The Shining? Check out the Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite, which is also haunted and provided inspiration for the interior sets of The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film adaption of The Shining.
Thanks for reading!
Posted by camille on January 5, 2020
how scary is it
Posted by Amy on January 6, 2020
Thanks for asking, Camille! I didn’t think it was so scary, but everyone could react differently.
Posted by Perrot on March 11, 2020
Je ne suis pas encore allée dans cet hôtel mais je compte y réserver la fameuse chambre 217. Est t’elle réellement hantée et s’y passe t’il systématiquement quelque chose de paranormal ou tout cela n’est qu’un canular….?
Posted by Amy on March 11, 2020
Bonjour, Perrot. Merci pour votre commentaire. Je trouve qu’il est toujours préférable d’enquêter par vous-même. Prendre plaisir.
Posted by Dakota Hickey on April 21, 2020
Where else have you explored that you though was creepy and eerie I am deep in the paranormal and when I mean deep I mean DEEP but I just wanted to know where you have explored and I also have some ideas of where you can go
Posted by Amy on April 22, 2020
Hey Dakota! So cool to know you are interested in the paranormal. I have personally visited and explored all of the places listed on my website, you can also find videos to accompany most of these places on my Youtube channel. If you click the ‘blog’ button in my menu you will be able to scroll through all the articles I have written. For the creepiest places, I would check out the 99 Door Mansion and the Paris Catacombs. The videos for each of these places are pretty scary too. Hope this helps!
Posted by Ashley Creech on September 25, 2020
i have always loved everything about ghost. i have had some personal experiences with ghosts and in fact, i’ve actually seen my grandma’s shadow shortly after she died, and have also been seeing my dead uncle roaming my house’s halls and my sister has seen him standing at the foot of my bed watching us sleep. and ever since my first encounter when i was only like 6 years old, things have been happening in every home that i’ve ever lived in. and my step-dad has actually met the shadow man when he was like 13 or 14.
me and my best friend has actually planned on going to haunted places when we turn 18
Posted by Amy on October 13, 2020
Sorry to hear about your grandma, Ashley, but thanks for sharing your story with us.
Posted by Jason on October 13, 2020
How long is the waiting list to stay in Room 217?
Posted by Amy on October 14, 2020
Thanks for the comment, Jason. I have heard from others that it is over a year long, though this wasn’t the case when I visited. I just called them and asked when they had availability, they had pretty much random weekdays available. That was a couple of ago now though. It is probably best to get in contact with the Stanley Hotel and ask them directly. Best of luck if you are booking a stay.
Posted by Destry jorg on November 20, 2020
I have been on the tour but my aunt and I had out hair standing on ends literally when we went back to the place we were standing it didn’t happen but it was a great experience I hope to stay there soon
Posted by Amy on November 23, 2020
Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad you got the chance to visit the hotel, it’s amazing!
Posted by Lexus on January 22, 2021
Hi I’m going there soon is it more scary or fun
Posted by Rob Leithliter on April 24, 2021
I was lucky enough to spend a few days here about 12 years ago. Took tours, got some cool pictures and EVP’s. I spent the night down the hall from room 217. My room was active as far as the bathroom faucet would turn on and off by itself, from time to time I would feel the weight of someone else on my bed as if someone was sitting on the foot of it. I did take a few pictures of my room and did catch a few orbs. Over all I had very good time there. Oh yeah, we did get to play ball the ghost children in the hall, I have video of it some place, very cool.
Posted by Amy on April 27, 2021
Thanks for sharing Rob. I hope to go back to the Stanley some day.
Posted by Brookelyn Crumley on September 13, 2021
I just visited The Stanley Hotel & I captured what seems to be a ghost coming up from downstairs in a photo. It’s all white and you can see it’s arm extended to the right.
Posted by Amy on September 14, 2021
Wow, that’s awesome! Thanks for sharing.
Posted by Aspen J on September 14, 2021
Many years ago I went to the Stanley with a date for a company Christmas party. Room 217 happened to be available, although at the time I didn’t know there was so much history connected to that specific room; I had only seen the Shining and was a bit naive. The front desk person said it’s a highly sought-after room, and it sounded adventurous so my date and I took it.
That night after dinner he and some friends were messing around in a ballroom and my date fell through the window, slicing his arm and a major artery in the process. He had to be rushed to the local hospital and then flown by helicopter to Denver for emergency surgery. My date never did regain full use of his arm and hand from that, and had to re-learn how to do everything with his left hand.
It wasn’t until recently that I heard about the ghost that doesn’t approve of unmarried people sharing a room. That realization brought on an entirely new set of “the creepies,” and I can’t help but wonder if she caused my date’s misfortune.
Posted by Amy on September 25, 2021
Thanks for sharing this story, that is intense!
Posted by K Davis on December 10, 2021
I stayed at the Stanley around 8yrs ago, and will be going back this month. While there I caught an amazing picture of a little girl standing in the doorway of the bar, and she’s looking straight at me. I did not want to post it until I went back, unfortunately a cancer fight (COVID) put the trip on hold. It’s time to go back, and even though the last visits evidence of the paranormal activity was found “Wanting to help her is my main reason”. I have studied the history of the hotel, the Stanley’s, Dunraven, and every incident that happened good/bad. I would like to say, if the guides would tell half of the information I found, the tour’s would explain why some of the hauntings may be taking place. As for the cook being a possible haunter, with him being so young and the death being so sudden “I can see it”.
Posted by Amy on December 15, 2021
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this. I wish you all the best for your trip back and hope you’re able to find some answers!
Posted by Aimee on January 12, 2022
So did you encounter any paranormal activity anywhere?
Posted by Amy on February 11, 2022
Check out the video at the top of this page and watch our investigation.
Posted by Izzy on May 5, 2022
what is the story behind room 217? what makes it so scary?
Posted by Amy on May 6, 2022
Hey Izzy! The room is the best known paranormal hotspot within the Stanley Hotel. I have written all about its backstory in this article. Hope you find some interest in it! Cheers.