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Inside haunted hotel that inspired The Shining: From ghost children to real Room 217

Yasmine Leung April 25, 2022
Inside haunted hotel that inspired The Shining: From ghost children to real Room 217
Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images


The Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining is inspired by a real hotel in Colorado. Here are some ghostly facts and photos from inside the real “haunted house”.

Known as one of the top horror films ever made, The Shining made twin sisters way scarier than they ever should be. Meanwhile, Jack Nicholson’s sinister face peeking through the wooden door will never be erased from our memory.

Even the trailer is eerie – who can forget the waves of blood gush through the corridors? It still gives us goosebumps.

If you’re a Shining fan, you can actually visit the place that inspired the Overlook Hotel in the Rocky Mountains. Although, you’ll never catch us there.

Why? Because some spooky things have happened in the past, so here’s what we know about the ominous lodge.

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Inside the Overlook Hotel

Room 217 is real

Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In the film adaptation, Hallorann tells Danny to avoid room 237. But room 217 is the actual room that’s out-of-bounds in the novel. Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, resided in room 217 when they visited The Stanley Hotel, Colorado in September 1974.

The couple were the only guests in the hotel which was set to close for winter. Whilst at the accommodation, the author dreamed of his three-year-old son “running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose,” he explained, and thus The Shining was born.

Gas explosion of 1911

Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909 advertising itself as one of the few hotels in the world to be completely powered by modern electricity. However, since the property was so isolated, an auxiliary gas lighting system was installed for emergencies.

On 26 June, an explosion of acetylene gas allegedly endangered 20 guests and fatally injured a woman named Elizabeth Lambert, according to Montrose Daily Press. However, there have been variations of this report.

Although the hotel wasn’t destroyed, it sounds similar to how the boiler in the novel exploded. The explosion leaving the Overlook in flames.

Reports of “ghosts”

Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, the hotel encourages visitors to share photos of ghost encounters. However, we’re unsure if they would show up on camera.

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Roadtrippers claim that “every single room in the hotel has experienced “something strange, from clothes being mysteriously unpacked, to items moving on their own, and lights turning themselves on and off”. It’s said the fourth floor is infamous for the mysterious laughter of children.

However, most Tripadvisor reviews have reported on no such encounters with one even writing: “The only supernatural thing that occurred was a wasp that snuck in the room was unkillable.

You can stay in room 217

Dubbed as “spirited rooms”, you can stay in the famous room 217, and ghost hunters’ favourites 401, 407 and 428. The hotel claims they have “high paranormal activity”. Although after the reviews we’re not so convinced. Let us know if you see anything.

The hedge maze came to life in 2015

The infamous hedge maze which sees character Jack Torrance freeze to death inspired landscaping at the real hotel. It came to be in June 2015 to celebrate John W Cullen’s 20th year of ownership of the hotel. Cullen organised a contest for the design and New York architect, Mairim Dallaryan Standing, brought the maze to life.

The maze is three-foot-high to avoid children from getting lost, unlike the 13-ft labyrinth in Stanley Kubrick’s film . It’s a wise choice, but slightly disappointing for film fanatics.

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.