If you’re out for an adventure, you could book an ordinary hotel, but why not book a hotel that is the adventure? That’s what we did when we stayed at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.
The Stanley is famously known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, which was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s film with the same name. If you stay the night there, you cannot escape that fact.
Of course, the hotel has a gift shop to separate you from every last dollar in exchange for all kinds of souvenirs, but the real moneymaker (outside of being a hotel) is the ghost tour.
The ghost tour is a 90-minute exploration of the hotel, its history and its paranormal stories. If you have any interest in participating in this, you must book this early. We missed out on the tour because we thought we could just show up.
A bunch of goofy kids wearing Ghostbusters shirts got what should have been our spots, but since we were guests we were allowed to tour around the hotel a bit on our own.
So the big question: Did we see any ghosts?
Not on our tour, but I will get to our ghost story in a bit.
We broke out the smart phones to read up on the ghost stories, and we checked out the upper floor, which was definitely creepy. It was also definitely lacking in the spooky twins and bloody elevators departments.
What goes on behind the guest room doors, though is another story. What I have to tell you next is creepy. Bone-chilling. Disturbing.
Every time you turn on the TV in a guest room at The Stanley Hotel, no matter what channel it was on previously, the box turns on to the movie: The Shining.
Yes, it was, indeed, disturbing. It’s like when you finally go back to you room to relax, you expect to turn on the TV and see some awkward local newscast. Instead you get a very visual and auditory reminder that the place you are staying was the inspiration for one of the most unnerving movies of all time. It really gets under your skin.
So with the public areas of the hotel dead quite except for the Ghostbuster wannabes, and the room constantly reminding you that you’re trying to sleep in a nightmare, we retired to the bar for the evening.
The bar was a jovial place, and I fell in love with their signature drink – Redrum Punch. We had a wonderful bartender who kept us entertained and refilled (and refilled (and refilled)). Maybe a little social lubrication might bring the ghosts out, after all. And boy did it ever.
Upon returning to the room, we got the photo every Stanley visitor hopes to capture on film – a real-life full ghostly apparition.
Sure, it wasn’t everything we had hoped for, and I’m sure it wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of a reality-TV paranormal investigator. But I was thrilled with our ghostly encounter, and you can never take that moment away from me.
So there you have it. If you stay at the Stanley, be prepared to have your TV freak you out, reserve your spot on the ghost tour early, and if all else fails, drink Redrum Punch until you see ghosts.