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Status of founder of the Stanley Hotel

Statue of F.O. Stanley in front of the Stanley Hotel – Photo by Gwyn Goodrow

Stanley Hotel tour is an experience you'll remember for a long time! After reading The Shining by Steven King, I was thrilled to stay at The Stanley Hotel. No wonder this hotel inspired an excellent piece of fiction that leaves readers spellbound and wanting more!

I have always been an avid viewer of classic movies and enthusiastic about well-written stories. One of the best stories is The Shining, written by Steven King. When we visited Colorado, I stayed at The Stanley Hotel, which inspired this excellent piece of fiction that leaves the reader spellbound. The hotel sits atop a hill overlooking the town of Estes Park with a radiance that makes the Stanley Hotel the mountainside wonder of Estes Park.

History of the Stanley Hotel

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the scourges afflicting the United States was the illness of tuberculosis. This illness causes difficulty breathing and other respiratory problems. Therefore, many afflicted people looked for places with a better climate to ease their difficulties. One of these victims of tuberculosis was Freelan Oscar Stanley. On the advice of his doctor, Freelan and his wife Flora Stanley relocated from Newton, Massachusetts, to Denver, Colorado.

Mr. Stanley's health did not immediately improve, so he moved again, searching for relief. This time he was advised to go to Estes Park at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This location proved much better for his health, so he returned each year.

Freelan and Flora were so happy with their time in Colorado that they decided to build a new home in Estes Park. Freelan Stanley had several successful businesses that made him quite wealthy, so the cost was not a concern for the couple.

Companies operated by F.O. Stanley

Freeland Stanley and his brother Francis Stanley owned the Stanley Dryplate Company and Stanley Motor Carriage Company. The Stanley Dryplate Company manufactured photographic plates allowing the mass marketing of photographic materials. It was extremely successful and later sold to George Eastman of Eastman-Kodak.

The second company, the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, was an early producer of motor vehicles. Their vehicle was the Stanley Steamer with twin cylinders providing power to the rear axle. A Stanley Steamer recorded a record speed of 28.2 seconds for a mile in 1906.

Stanley Steamer in the hotel lobby

Stanley Steamer on display at the Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

In 1907, Freeland Stanley built an opulent hotel in Estes Park. It was a 48-room hotel designed to cater to the fine tastes of wealthy patrons from New England and New York. It provided an ideal resting place for customers recovering from tuberculosis. The hotel was completed in 1910. The hotel used a fleet of steam power cars to transport guests from the nearby rail station in Lyons, Colorado, to the resort hotel.

The hotel was never financially self-sufficient during its early years, so it was sold in 1926 to a private company. It was later sold to other hotel operators and eventually, in 1930, sold to Roy Emery of Denver, Colorado. Through the 1980's it was only open during the summer season. It was during this time that the author Steven King stayed at the hotel that served as his inspiration for the setting of the novel, The Shining. Today, The Stanley Hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America.

Stanley Hotel Tours

The hotel offers several different tours to allow guests to become immersed in the history and atmosphere of the hotel. On each tour, the costumed tour guide is dressed in attire consistent with the time the hotel was built and initially operated.

The Stanley Hotel day tour is 60 minutes long and introduces guests to the Stanley family and noteworthy guests such as Steven King. The tour is limited to 10 people, with a minimum age of 9 years old. The Stanley Hotel tour at night is similar to the day tour but has visual enhancements to showcase the Rocky Mountain scenery. For guests aged eight and younger, check out the Stanley Hotel family tour using I-Spy and learn about Freelan Stanley and his impact on the city of Estes Park.

The Stanley Hotel Ghost Tours

The Stanley Hotel Ghost Tour showcases Colorado's most famous ghosts and mysteries. It seems like every show on television wants a segment at this renowned spot, while documentarians also frequent it because they know there will be something new for them each time!

The Concert Hall at the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel concert hall is a place of sadness and musical nostalgia. Stanley built this beautiful building, modeled after Boston's concert hall, as an anniversary gift for his wife, Flora. This location has hosted many late night concerts from the Steinway grand pianos she loved so much in their day-to-day life together. Even today, when guests hear the  classical piano music and the staff will soon discover there is no one in the building.

The Fourth Floor

In the hotel's early days, the fourth floor was like an attic space, used for storage during the winter when the hotel was closed for the season. Later, the construction was completed, and this floor became in-house lodging for female employees and their children. Today, the fourth level of the Stanley Hotel is available for hotel guests who hear children running in the halls, laughing, and playing throughout the night. In individual rooms, closet doors seem to open and shut randomly. Sometimes clothing might go missing, only to reappear folded in a drawer.
Room 428 seems the most active, with rumors of heavy footsteps walking across the room and furniture rearranging as the hotel guests sleep.

Room 217

What happened in Room 217 at the Stanley Hotel? It's a featured room on the Stanley Hotel Ghost Tour as the hotel's most notorious paranormal hot spot. Room 217 has a story of terror and tragedy. Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson, head housekeeper, was concerned about the approaching snowstorm and took preventive action to light the acetylene lanterns in the hotel before the expected power outage. The hotel room had accidentally filled with flammable gas by an unseen leak during repair work earlier that day on a lower floor. As Mrs. Wilson lit the match for the lamp, a massive explosion destroyed much of that section of the building. She survived the blast and lived for many years, but rumors remain that she is still on watch in Room 217.

Stephen King and The Shining at the Stanley Hotel

In October 1974, Stephen King decided to spend a night at the Stanley Hotel only a few days before the hotel closed for the winter season. He was booked into Room 217, where he could not sleep due to a horrific nightmare. Throughout the night, King would battle the sleepless night, and in this hotel room, the concept of the Overlook Hotel held firm in his writer's mind.

The Stanley Hotel stories were riveting, and the tour guide kept us intrigued about each upcoming adventure.

Exploring the Stanley Hotel Room Accommodations

The Stanley Hotel offers four distinctly different types of accommodations for guests. There is a choice for every type of traveler. First, for history lovers, the Stanley Hotel offers original historic rooms with classic furnishings. It includes free Wi-Fi and large-screen television. Our room was situated near a corner with incredible views of the nearby mountains. Guests in the main hotel can also request one of the rooms known for spirited ghost activity. 

The Stanley Hotel Lodge offers updated historic rooms with a boutique feel. The Aspire has apartment-style rooms with kitchenettes. Finally, many guests enjoy a condominium experience with one to three bedrooms for extra space.

Dining Options in the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel offers many different venues to get a bite, wet your whistle, or just hang out with friends.

Entrance to Cascades Restaurant

Entrance to Cascades Restaurant at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

Cascades Restaurant

The Cascades Restaurant showcases local cuisines that fill your need for a hearty meal. It is located on the patio within view of a waterfall and art feature. While the restaurant seating area is spacious, the floor-to-ceiling windows offer splendid views of the manicured landscaping surrounding the hotel and create a cozy atmosphere for diners.

The Whiskey Bar

The Whiskey Bar provides lunch and dinner selections and excellent choices from their drink menu. They feature Colorado's largest selection of whiskeys and single malt scotches.

Cherry Company at hotel ground floor

Colorado Cherry Company confectionery and eatery at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

Colorado Cherry Company

If you are looking for a quiet moment with friends or for some self-reflection, the Colorado Cherry Company cannot be missed. They offer gourmet snacks and gifts such as locally crafted chocolates, honey spreads, and gourmet popcorn. This bistro is located on the ground floor of the main hotel building and has a seating area nearby.

Things to do in Estes Park, Colorado

When you leave The Stanley Hotel, take the time to enjoy the excellent attractions in and around the town of Estes Park. The town has many excellent eating establishments, such as the Estes Park Pie Shop, located just down the hill from the Stanley Hotel. It has a varied menu for both breakfast and lunch. If you order one of their sandwiches, be prepared for a full plate of food. Their lunch was so delicious and plentiful that we almost couldn't eat it all. Don't forget to try one of their famous pies. I ate a slice of their Rhubarb pie. As a visitor from New England, I can attest that it was authentic and a spectacular culinary treat.

Elk Statue

Another activity that should not be missed is exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is the entry point on the eastern side of the park. One tip for your visit to the area is to make sure you download the app from GypsyGuide for touring the Rocky Mountain National Park. It is available on iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Stanley Hotel


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