If it wasn’t for The Shining, imagine what an exceptionally (and conventionally) attractive holiday destination the Stanley Hotel would be. With its epic views over Rocky Mountain National Park, the Colorado hotel exudes effortless elegance with its incredibly lush grounds and enormous colonial revival façade. It’s almost a shame that the Stanley is better known for tidal waves of blood and a rampaging, axe-wielding maniac.
Built by steam-powered car inventor Freeman Oscar Stanley in the early 1900s, the Stanley Hotel was once a health retreat for tuberculosis sufferers. It’s better known, however, as the inspiration for The Shining. In 1974, author Stephen King visited the hotel with his wife Tabitha, only to find it eerily empty and cut off from the outside world. In it, he found the perfect setting for a disturbing descent into madness.
These days, the Stanley is a luxury resort and a pilgrimage spot for The Shining’s legions of dedicated fans – and it’s just as unsettling as you’d expect. The isolation obviously helps, but so too do the long corridors, the high ceilings and ornate wooden furnishings.
And then there are the ghost stories. Room 217, where King and his wife stayed, is supposedly haunted by the hotel’s chief housekeeper, who was gravely injured in a gas explosion in 1911. And room 237, of course, is the one you’ll know from the book. Whatever you do, avoid room 237.
The hotel has also proven popular with ghost hunters. Rooms 401, 407 and 408 have all seen reports of everything from flickering lights, slamming doors and mysterious bumps in the night to visions of ghostly cowboys and giggling children. The Stanley is well aware of its paranormal side, too – the hotel holds its own night tours that take visitors through the building’s ghostly history.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining wasn’t actually shot at the Stanley Hotel – that was the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. The Stanley was, however, the filming location for the altogether-less-scary Dumb and Dumber. Still, there are few things that make you run a mile quite like bang-average, hit-or-miss 1990s buddy comedies.
Tempted? Rates start from $329 (£240) per night, and night tours from $25 (£18) per person. Check availability on the Stanley Hotel website.
Looking for more spooky getaways? Here are five scary movie houses and hotels in the USA that you can actually book. And these are the 19 most haunted hotels in the USA.