Stephen King - the Overlook - the Stanley Hotel and Ghosts

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Most folks have either seen the movie, THE SHINING or read Stephen King's book of the same title (one of King's best and scariest books!).

The story takes place in a very haunted hotel named "The OverLook".

I knew Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, had stayed at a similar hotel in Colorado where he got the inspiration for his book but the name of this hotel was hard to find. While channel hopping one morning, I found a show called "Haunted Hotels" and it featured THE STANLEY HOTEL in Colorado which is where the Kings stayed.

The Travel Channel show included a tour of the 4th floor where servants and employees stayed which had halls looking a lot like the Torrance family quarters at "The Overlook" in the movie.  King stayed in room 217 which showed up in his book (and the movie) as the "haunted" room.  Supposedly King wrote most of THE SHINING in room 217.

Unlike "The Overlook" which had been past its prime (although still had seasonal guests), the Stanley is a thriving hotel, made even more famous by its reputation for ghosts which while not the chilling variety of "the Overlook" still intrigue guests.

The stories of ghosts are NOT on their website:

But the history of it being built by Stanley of Stanley Steamer who had tuberculosis and was advised by his doctor to "move West" is on the website and intriguing.

I found plenty of information about the alleged hauntings at the hotel:

>>>>The Stanley Hotel Haunting: The ghosts in the Stanley Hotel aren't evil as in the book. Room 418 seems to have the most ghostly activity reported. In fact, the entire fourth floor of the Stanley Hotel (formerly the servants quarters) is quite active. Often, the sound of children playing in the halls of the Stanley can be heard, even when no children are present.

The Stanleys: The Stanley Hotel's original owners, F.O. and Flora Stanley, are said to haunt the hotel as well. Mr Stanley plays the piano in the music room, and frequents the billards room and the lobby.<<<<

According to the TV show I watched, it was MRS Stanley who plays the piano - apparently some guests have heard music and described standing at the threshold of the music room and seeing the piano keys moving but when they enter the room, the playing stops.  Also, interviewed hotel employees told about 2 couples leaving the hotel before they were scheduled to leave - they had rooms on the 4th floor and said they could not sleep at night because of the children playing there - but no children had been registered.

Apparently the ABC miniseries, THE SHINING was filmed at the Stanley Hotel.  However the movie, THE SHINING was filmed at Mt Hood Lodge in Oregon. Not filming the movie at The Stanley had, according to one site, annoyed Stephen King and this had been the part of the motivation for ABC's refilming of the story!

Another website tells of more ghosts:

>>>>There are several rooms in the hotel that seem to be particularly haunted.  One is Room 407, which is said to sometimes be occupied by Lord Dunraven, who owned the land prior to F.O. Stanley.  Reportedly, he likes to stand in the corner of the room near the bathroom door.  On one such account, witnesses reported that a light in that corner kept turning on and off.  While the light was off, they told the ghost that they knew that he was there, they would only be staying two nights, and would he please turn the light back on.  The light turned back on.  However, later when the lights were turned off and they were trying to sleep, noises were constantly heard from the nearby elevator during a time when the elevator was not in use.  At other times, a ghost has been reported to be looking out the window of Room 407, when the room is not booked.<<<<

Apparently Lord Dunraven was the one from whom Stanley bought the land - Dunraven had unsuccessfully tried to build a hunting lodge there.

>>> Tour guides tell a story of the ghost of a small child who has been seen by many of the staff in various areas of the old hotel.  Reportedly, Steven King also saw the child, who was calling out to his nanny on the second floor.  Other past employees report footsteps and apparitions seen throughout the building.


Unlike the Overlook, the Stanley is open all year 'round:


>>>>The Stanley Hotel is open year-round and is located at 333 Wonderview in Estes Park, Colorado<<<<<

In an interesting article carried in "The Coloradoan" written by someone who had stayed at the Stanley and experienced the ghosts wrote that apparently, 75 percent of the staff had claimed they experienced "ghost sightings". This article is likely available from their archives. It was in the 9/27/2003 issue and entitled "Stanley Hotel".

What I did NOT find in my research was what were the stories BEHIND the ghosts.  I suspect if there ARE such stories, the hotel doesn't want to make THAT part available to the public.  Stephen King told his own stories - for example, the children were the children of a Winter caretaker (before central heating, the hotel was not open in the Winter) who got "cabin fever" and went insane.  (King claims to have seen one of the ghost children at the Stanley) 

One site stated there had been "no documented murders" at the Stanley.  The keyword in that phrase might be DOCUMENTED - according to ghost lore, it's the UNDOCUMENTED ones, the unsolved ones which can bring back the ghosts to haunt!

Interest in ghosts has helped business for the Stanley Hotel which offers weekly "ghost tours" (in the evening of course) for an admission fee of $10.

Sue Joan