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Top 5 Park and Cruise Hotels in Southampton: A Comprehensive Review
When it comes to planning a cruise from Southampton, one of the most important aspects to consider is finding the right park and cruise hotel. These hotels not only provide comfortable accommodations but also offer convenient parking facilities for your vehicle while you embark on your cruise adventure. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect hotel for your needs. To help you make an informed decision, we have compiled a comprehensive review of the top 5 park and cruise hotels in Southampton.
Grand Harbour Hotel
Located just a stone’s throw away from the Southampton cruise terminals, Grand Harbour Hotel is an excellent choice for travelers looking for convenience and luxury. The hotel offers secure parking facilities, allowing you to leave your car worry-free while you enjoy your cruise. With its elegant rooms, stunning views of the harbor, and top-notch amenities including a spa and fitness center, Grand Harbour Hotel provides a truly luxurious experience.
Holiday Inn Southampton
Situated near the city center and within close proximity to the cruise terminals, Holiday Inn Southampton is another popular choice among cruisers. The hotel offers on-site parking with enhanced security measures to ensure the safety of your vehicle throughout your trip. With modern rooms, excellent dining options, and a range of amenities including a swimming pool and gym, Holiday Inn Southampton provides comfort and convenience at an affordable price.
Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour
With its prime location overlooking the waterfront and offering panoramic views of the Solent, Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour is a favorite among travelers seeking both comfort and breathtaking scenery. The hotel provides secure parking facilities along with spacious rooms that are tastefully decorated. Guests can also enjoy access to leisure facilities such as a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and fitness center.
Conveniently located near West Quay Shopping Centre and within walking distance of the cruise terminals, Novotel Southampton is an ideal choice for those looking for a hotel with easy access to both shopping and embarkation points. The hotel offers secure parking facilities and spacious rooms with modern amenities. Guests can also indulge in delicious meals at the hotel’s restaurant or unwind at the bar after a long day of exploring the city.
Jurys Inn Southampton
Jurys Inn Southampton is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality. Located near the city center, this hotel provides easy access to both the cruise terminals and popular attractions in Southampton. While it may not offer on-site parking, guests can take advantage of nearby parking facilities at discounted rates. With comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and a range of amenities including a restaurant and bar, Jurys Inn Southampton ensures a pleasant stay without breaking the bank.
In conclusion, choosing the right park and cruise hotel in Southampton is crucial for ensuring a stress-free start to your cruise vacation. Whether you prioritize luxury, convenience, or affordability, these top 5 hotels offer excellent options to cater to different preferences. From the elegant Grand Harbour Hotel to the budget-friendly Jurys Inn Southampton, there’s something for every traveler looking to embark on their cruise adventure from Southampton.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Estes Park’s Historic, Haunted Stanley Hotel
Freelan stanley opened the iconic hotel more than a century ago with his wife flora..
In a place as rugged as Rocky Mountain National Park, a stately Victorian mansion stands out. Thanks to its striking appearance—not to mention the legends of hauntings spurred by a bestselling horror writer—Estes Park’s Stanley Hotel came to represent the park every bit as much as the horses and log cabins that define much of its early history. Freelan Stanley opened the iconic hotel more than a century ago with his wife Flora.
The Stanley’s famous ghosts didn’t show up until much later. The hotel was simply a stylish building until Stephen King spent a night there in 1974. It hadn’t been renovated at the time and its former luster had begun to fade, lending it a spooky aura. According to King, he and his wife were the only guests there as the staff prepared to close up for the winter. Wandering the nearly empty halls, it occurred to King that it would make an ideal setting for a ghost story. That very evening, “I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming,” he later wrote. That night inspired The Shining, which became a bestselling book. In 1980, the classic Stanley Kubrick horror movie adaptation was released.
Take if from us, if you can, make sure to stay in room 217. Not only is it the presidential suite with some of the best views of Rocky Mountain National Park, but it’s also the room Stephen King stayed in when starting to write his book. It’s been rumored funnyman Jim Carry himself couldn’t even make it through a night in the room, so you know things must be a bit off. Bookings go quickly so make sure to reserve a few months in advance, and always remember to be nice to the folks at the reservation desk, since you know, they have the power to say yes.
Other famously haunted rooms include 418 where guests have repeatedly complained about the noise of young children playing in the hall outside, and room 407, which is where it is believed Lord Dunraven still resides. Rumor has it the Lord used to hide in the closet and stare at the nannies who lived in the room during the first few years of the hotel. (Creepy, we know) It’s so creepy some people won’t even go into the room according to hotel staff.
Don’t worry though you won’t have to experience this all by yourself, and if you’re really paranoid think second floor where the least amount of supernatural occurrences have been reported. Of course, if you want the full story make sure to check out the hotels ghost tours, where visitors walk through the hallways that it is rumored F.O. himself roams as his wife Flora plays the piano in the ballroom downstairs.
The book, the movie, the grand architecture, and the hotel’s dramatic location draw people in to this day for an evening and perhaps a whiskey with the hospitable ghosts—including that of Freelan Stanley himself—who allegedly still watch over the hotel.
For more information: 970-577-4000 333 Wonderview Ave. Estes Park, CO 80517 www.stanleyhotel.com
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The Stanley Hotel’s Haunted History
October 4, 2023 By // by Patrick McGuire
Regardless of whether or not you believe in ghosts, you can’t deny the Stanley Hotel’s ability for inspiring fear and intrigue. Let’s uncover the creepy legacy of this iconic Rocky Mountain destination and its supposedly, haunted history.
The Stanley’s spooky past is built on a combination of provable facts and events, and loads of anecdotal evidence and speculation. There are hotel guests and staff accounts of hearing disembodied voices, being touched by something or someone they can’t see, and all manner of other strange and unexplainable occurrences.
The Stanley Hotel’s Background
Today, the Stanley Hotel is a large, stately lodge that overlooks the mountain town of Estes Park . But before the hotel and town were established here, Estes Valley was an idyllic landscape replete with mountain streams and meadows that Ute and Arapaho tribes called home, according to the hotel’s website.
The Stanley Hotel’s origin story began when inventor Freelan Oscar Stanley, stricken with tuberculosis, traveled to the valley in hopes of getting their health back. Some tell this part of the hotel’s origin story differently and claim that Stanley was so ill that he was convinced he’d die from consumption and was intent on doing it in a beautiful place. But after just one summer, his health was indeed restored, which he credited to the fresh air and abundant sunshine.
Alongside his wife Flora, Stanley made plans to build a large hotel in Estes Valley that would feature the grandeur and Edwardian opulence of east coast establishments, but in a rustic, western setting.
When the hotel opened in 1909, guests marveled at the palatial structure in front of them. It was surrounded by wilderness but somehow featured electricity, telephones, modern bathrooms, and a maid and cooking staff in professional uniforms.
For decades, the Stanley was seen as a posh, exclusive Mountain West destination that provided a restful, rejuvenating break for busy east coast lifestyles.
But by the 1970s, the hotel had fallen into grave disrepair due to years of neglect and lack of investment and had become a shell of its former self. The Stanley easily could’ve been demolished had it not been for a bizarre and fateful string of occurrences involving a now-seminal author and his famous nightmare that took place in Room 217.
Haunted Room 217
In the 1970s, author Steven King was working on The Stand and living in Boulder, Colorado. One weekend, he and his wife, Tabatha, traveled an hour north to Estes Park for a weekend away from their children. In a recent interview on The View , King explained that the Stanley Hotel was open on its last day for the season when he and Tabatha arrived looking for accommodations.
“It was their last day of the season. Everybody was leaving and nobody was coming in, and we said ‘can we check in,”
King said. They would be the only guests in the large hotel that night, and King recalled hearing the wind whistling outside the room. After a night at the restaurant and bar, the couple retired to Room 217.
In a lucid nightmare, the author dreamed of a coiled fire hose coming to life and chasing his screaming son as he ran down the halls of the hotel. After waking in a panic, King lit a cigarette and stared out the window. By the time he had finished the cigarette and gone back to bed, the rough outline of The Shining was fully formed in his mind.
The Stanley’s connection to King and the terrifying night that inspired The Shining are the hotel’s most famous and influential creepy occurrence, but strange and reportedly paranormal happenings had been reported in the hotel long before the 1970s, some specifically in Room 217. Take the night of June 25th, 1911, for example .
After the valley experienced a flood, the two-year-old hotel’s power went out for the first time. Freelan Stanley took it upon himself to install a gas lantern in each room to provide the guests with a light, and a leak caused a buildup of gas to form in Room 217.
The head chambermaid, Elizabeth Wilson, entered the room with a lit candle and set off a massive explosion. Wilson miraculously survived and was launched from the room’s entrance to the dining hall located on the first floor.
An estimated 10% of the hotel wasn’t as lucky, and one observer reported seeing a bathtub fly up in the air during the blast. After waking up from a coma, Wilson returned to work in 1913 and remained employed by the hotel until 1950.
This is where Wilson’s story should end, but it doesn’t, according to some hotel guests and staff. Her spirit is said to still inhabit Room 217, but reports claim that she’s typically more helpful than scary. Guests have shared stories of waking up to a room that was tidier than the night before with their clothes folded and suitcases organized.
One couple told a staff member at the Stanley that their bed was made around them during the night with them still inside. But take note, if you’re considering staying in this famous hotel and aren’t married, you may not have the most restful night if you choose to stay in Room 217. Unmarried couples have reported a chilly presence settling into bed with them as they’ve slept.
A haunted reputation and other creepy offerings
Stanley died in 1940 at the age of 91, but, like Wilson, many believe his presence can still be seen and felt at the hotel, mainly at the bar and in the billiard room. The phantom of his wife Flora has a penchant for tinkering around on the hotel’s piano, according to multiple accounts.
Some hotel tour guides believe a ghost of a child with autism wanders the property and plays with guests’ hair. And guests on the fourth floor of the Stanley have shared stories of hearing children’s laughter in the hall with no one to be found.
Rachael Thomas, a tour supervisor for the Stanley Hotel, claimed she was mysteriously made ill on this floor in a 2021 interview . Creepy happenings like these have made the hotel an internationally famous hot spot for supposed hauntings, and it’s been featured on popular ghost-themed shows like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters .
Whether ghosts actually exist or if life after death is real or not is not something we’re equipped to meaningfully address or answer in this short article, but we can tell you with 100% certainty that the Stanley Hotel has a couple of decidedly creepy locations.
These include an on-site pet cemetery, where some of the owner’s animals have been laid to rest over the years (Cassie, a friendly golden retriever, is said to still deliver newspapers and scratch at the doors to be let in from outside despite being buried at the grounds); plus a large cave system that’s located under the hotel.
Why would a hotel need a network of caves, you ask?
The reason is that in the early days of the Stanley, it was seen as unprofessional for the staff to be seen by guests, so employees used the underground pathways to travel between rooms and the hotel’s bar, restaurant, and laundry facilities.
The ghost of a pastry chef is said to haunt the caves, as evidenced by the alluring and inexplicable scent of baked goods that are frequently reported there.
Room 401 is, according to some , the creepiest room in the hotel, and is thought to be haunted by an unfriendly male ghost by some accounts. Women have claimed that they were inappropriately touched by an unknown presence while standing in the room’s closet.
One man claims he witnessed his wedding ring inexplicably move from the bathroom counter and fall down the drain of the sink in the bathroom.
Down the hall in Room 407, multiple guests have reported the odd experience of being tucked into bed by some invisible force, and others have felt someone sit on the foot of the bed only to find nothing but an indentation on the covers when they switched on the light.
In Room 428, some have seen the vision of a cowboy looming over the bed as they slept, or standing in the corner. There aren’t any rooms above this room, yet over the years there have been multiple reports of strange sounds like furniture being moved and footsteps emanating from the ceiling.
Even without its paranormal reputation, the Stanley Hotel is a beautiful, fascinating place to visit. But with the potential to experience a haunting firsthand, guests from the world over travel here in hopes of witnessing something profound and unexplainable.
If you’re unsure whether you believe there’s something more than meets the eye happening here, you’ll have to book a room and see for yourself (affiliate link). When you do, request to be booked on the fourth floor, because that’s supposedly where you’re most likely to experience something, according to accounts.
About Patrick McGuire
Patrick McGuire is a freelance writer and musician living in the mountain west.
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Stay at the Most Haunted Hotel in Colorado
The Stanley Hotel: The Haunting Beauty of a Frightening Night’s Sleep
Any big hotels have got scandals. Just like every big hotel has got a ghost. Why? Hell, people come and go. Sometimes one of ‘em will pop off in his room, heart attack or stroke or something like that. Hotels are superstitious places.
Freelan Oscar Stanley was an American inventor, entrepreneur, hotelier, and architect. School children used the Stanley Practical Drawing Set, photographers used photographic plates, which made him a multi-millionaire, and with his twin brother, created the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. The Stanley Steamer a top speed of 127 mph, which made it the fastest vehicle on earth, at the time.
In 1903, F.O. Stanley was given less than 6 months to live, due to Tuberculosis. The doctor recommended fresh, dry air, sunlight, and a healthy diet, but he would likely be dead before summer’s end. Like many with the same diagnosis, Stanley and his wife headed for the Rocky Mountains. It was not an easy trek from Massachusetts, but his doctor promised to come in September to bring Stanley’s body back for burial. However, within just a couple of months, Stanley was hiking five miles a day and nowhere near deaths door. Naturally, he fell madly in love with the valley in Estes Park that gave him a second chance at life and decided to return every summer.
When Stanley first stepped foot in Colorado, he looked like the walking dead. At 5’11 (which was quite tall at that time), he weighed only 118lbs and had one foot in the grave. Just 4 years later, he was completely recovered and in the best shape of his life! In fact, he lived to be 91 years old!
THE STANLEY HOTEL ESTES PARK, CO
Recovery did not stop the Stanley’s from returning to this healthy environment, but they were a little tired of the rugged lifestyle that the current accommodations allowed. So, in 1907, he was determined to turn Estes Park into a resort town, so he began construction of the famous Hotel Stanley. He also built a hydroelectric plant up in the mountains so as the hotel could be all electric. He even had phones in every room.
The main hotel and concert hall were completed in 1909. Guests that arrived by train were ushered to the hotel by a fleet of specially designed steam-powered vehicles called Mountain Wagons. The Stanley was a summer resort, so heat was not added until 1979. Other than that, the hotel is basically the same as it was when it opened. The Stanley Hotel National Register Historic District contains eleven structures, including the main hotel, the concert hall, a carriage house, manager’s cottage, gate house, and The Lodge, a smaller bed-and-breakfast originally called Stanley Manor.
In the 1970’s, the Stanley Hotel was experiencing a downward spiral. Its splendor had faded and with other accommodations with more modern amenities, like heat and a/c were taking most of the business. It also had a reputation of being haunted, which wasn’t a choice selling point back then. The Stanley seemed doomed for the wrecking ball until 1974, when an up and coming horror author checked in with his wife. That fateful night would not only elevate the literary horror genre and set Stephen King on his path to greatness, but it completely altered the destiny of The Stanley Hotel.
King and his wife Tabitha, were living in Boulder for a short time and King was struggling with his latest project Darkshine. He was looking for an isolated setting for the novel and locals suggested Estes Park for inspiration. The King’s had heard about the Stanley and wanted to check it out. They found themselves the only guests that night, as the next day, the hotel was closing for the season. They were served dinner in an empty room, with chairs on every table but theirs. Tabitha retreated to their room, numbered 217, while King wandered the long empty corridors, listening to canned music, and visited bartender, Grady, in the hotel bar.
The Stanley Hotel’s remote location, grand size, and eerie desolation had King’s imagination running wild. He even claims, “It was like God had put me there to hear that and see those things.” In a re-telling about that night, King said, “I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a firehose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in a chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of The Shining firmly set in my mind.”
You may notice that in Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of The Shining film, the famous bathtub scene takes place in Room 237. That is because The Timberline Lodge in Oregon, where the Kubrick’s exterior shots were filmed, did not embrace ghosts quite like The Stanley Hotel and they asked that the number be changed to a non-existent room. While the movie was a huge success and a huge revolution for horror films, it is no secret Stephen King was not a fan. It is easy to understand how Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance is both brilliant and incredible misconceived. King wrote Torrance’s descent into madness as a slower, more surprising plummet. Nicholson, while perfectly capturing the characters final and fatal temperament, was arguably a bit extreme to begin with. Kubrick also portrayed Wendy as a blubbering weakling (not to mention the emotional torture he put actress, Shelly Duval through to produce such drivel). If you are a Stephen King fan, you know that he is well known for writing strong female characters and Wendy was no exception.
In 1996, King, along with Warner Brothers produced “Stephen King’s The Shining”, a mini-series written by King himself. King made sure that filming happened at The Stanley Hotel, where his whole story began. A playhouse version The Stanley, that adorned the lawn of the Overlook Hotel in the series is now on display in the basement of the Stanley.
THE STANLEY HOTEL GHOSTS
The Stanley Hotel has been called “Disneyland for ghosts.” It has hosted countless paranormal investigations, including by teams from Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and SyFy’s Ghost Hunters. Guests can get in on the action with the Stanley’s “Ghost Adventure Package,” where they are assigned a room on the fourth floor, complete with ghost hunting equipment a mug with the famous message “REDRUM.”
Ghostly occurrences are reported in almost every room of this vast hotel. From shadowy figures, eerie laughter, flickering lights to items moving on their own, the Stanley Hotel has all your favorite phenomena. If you get too spooked, just fined a member of the cleaning staff. Apparently, the ghosts hate vacuum cleaners. Every time someone vacuums, the machines go haywire and turn off, or the plugs come flying out of the wall!
Though the Overlook Hotel from The Shining is fictional, as are the characters within, Room 217, the one that the King’s stayed in and is prominent in the novel, remains the Stanley’s most requested accommodation. I can assure you, there is no woman in the bathtub, but that doesn’t mean that the room isn’t haunted.
In 1911, during a large storm, the head housekeepers, Mrs. Wilson, was lighting the lanterns in Room 217 when there was an explosion. Elizabeth was blasted through the floor into the MacGregor Dining Room below. Believe it or not, she survived with only broken ankles. Now she spends most of her afterlife, still taking care of the room. Guests have reported items moved, luggage unpacked, and lights being turned on and off. Mrs. Wilson is very old-fashioned. She isn’t a fan of unmarried guests sleeping in the same bed, so some couples have reported feeling a cold force come between them. When they wale up, they often find that the man’s things have been packed with his luggage by the door.
Actor, Jim Carrey stayed in Room 217 when The Stanley Hotel was used for filming in his film Dumb and Dumber. He reportedly got so spooked, that he ran from the room, half-naked, in the middle of the night! Some of the films crew also got the creeps in this room.
The stunning staircase between floors in hotel’s lobby has been dubbed “The Vortex.” It is a tornado of spiritual energy, sort of a paranormal portal for all the ghosts that visit the hotel. Guest report cold spots and feeling dizzy on the stairs, as though something has just walked right through them. Orbs and Distortions have been caught on camera. Mr. and Mrs. Stanley have even been seen, hand in hand, watching over the hustle and bustle from the grand staircase.
The Concert Hall
The concert hall was built by F.O. Stanley as a gift for his wife, Flora. The stage features a trap door, used for theatrical entrances and exits. The lower level once housed a two-lane bowling alley. The hall underwent extensive repair and renovation in the 2000 but it is a favorite spot of Flora Stanley’s. She has been known to play the piano well in to the night.
Another spirit fond of the concert hall is Paul. Among other duties, Paul used to enforce the 11pm curfew in the hotel’s early days. Guests and employees report hearing someone telling them to “get out,” late at night. A construction worker was doing some work on the floors in the concert hall when he felt someone nudge him several times until he left. Paul is a big fan of the tour groups, often flickering their flashlights upon request.
THE FOURTH FLOOR
Guests staying on the fourth floor report hearing children running around, laughing, giggling and playing. The closet doors tend to open and shut on their own. More than a century ago, the entire fourth floor was a cavernous attic. Later, it became lodging for female employees, children, and nannies. Could it be that the Grady twins are more than fabrications of King’s macabre imagination?
Room 428 has reports of the sound of footsteps and furniture moving about, but the real haunt is a friendly cowboy who appears at the corner of the bed. Obviously, many friendly cowboys have spent a night or two at the Stanley Hotel over the years, but there is no indication of one dying in the building. Those that know their Estes Park history believe this to be the spirit of “Rocky Mountain” Jim Nugent. This is especially because he mostly appears to the ladies, sometime giving them a ghostly kiss.
Before indoor refrigeration, the Stanley Hotel had an outbuilding to house large blocks of ice. The icehouse has been remodeled into a museum containing some of the original Stanley Steamer Cars. It also has two spirits that have been seen inside. Billy is a shy kid that shows up as a blurry figure in photographs.
Existing long before King’s novel, Pet Sematary, there stood an actual Pet Cemetery outside of the Stanley Hotel. There are two beloved pets interred here that like to make appearances around the hotel. Cassie, the golden retriever, and Camanche, a fluffy white cat, have both been seen and heard all around the property.
If you take the 75-minute Historic Stanley Night, you will get an in depth look at the underground cave system beneath the hotel. The caves have a high concentration of limestone and quartz, which some believe help capture paranormal energy. It has been used by employees to get around the hotel and it would seem that at least one of them is still down there. Current employees say that the smells of home-baked goods linger in the tunnel with no apparent source. They attribute this to the pastry chef who worked for the Stanley’s when the hotel opened. There is also a grey cat seen stalking about with bright green, glowing eyes. He is not known to be from the pet cemetery, so perhaps he came from wherever those mysterious tunnels once led.
THE HEDGE MAZE
The open area in front of the Stanley Hotel was originally a long driveway for Stanley Steamers and a promenade for guests to enjoy the views. In 2015 it was replaced with a hedge maze. They held a competition where they chose the design from 300 global entries. This was done to connect the hotel to Stanley Kubrick’s film version of The Shining, which introduced the suspense provoking hedge maze. In King’s novel, the lawn of the Overlook Hotel, was adorned with topiary animals. While no specific ghosts have been reported inside, people to tend to get panicky and have trouble breathing while navigating the maze.
The Stanley Hotel is a top destination for ghost hunters, horror fans, adventure-seekers, health enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike. You don’t have to stay overnight to experience all that the hotel has to offer. Tours are available daily and each restaurant, bar, museum, or spa offers a unique experience. Literally brought back from the dead, thanks to one of the most famous and successful writers of all time, it’s no wonder that The Stanley Hotel is considered among the most haunted hotels in the world. If you are brave enough to visit, the Stanley is waiting with arms wide open.
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Take a Tour of the 'Shining' Hotel — You Just Might See a Ghost
Warning: You may want to sleep with the lights on after.
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado , which is over 100 years old, is so famous for ghost stories it inspired Stephen King to write "The Shining" after staying there in the 1970s. Today, it's still serving up frights.
Take John Mausling and his wife, Jessica Martinez-Mausling, who visited the hotel back in 2017 and left with the best souvenir they could have hoped for. While taking a "spirit tour" at the hotel, the Mausling family may have captured a photograph of two ghosts while they were stopped on a landing of the hotel's stairs. The couple took pictures along the way, and when they got home, they noticed two distinctly young-looking (but blurry) little girls on the staircase that they did not remember.
Just one problem: There were no young girls on the tour that night.
"After viewing the photos later we noticed the ghost girl walking up or down the stairs, I think the girl is walking up based on her shoes," Mausling told Travel + Leisure . "I took several photos that night, some coming out foggy, some coming out sharp. Not sure why some were clearer than others."
In case you are having trouble locating the apparitions, one ghostly white-ish figure is on the stairs, looking into the landing area, on the right-hand corner. The other "ghost" is a blurry figure, seemingly going up (or down) the stairs on the left.
Those brave enough can head to Colorado for The Stanley Hotel Spirited Night Tour . Ghost stories guaranteed.
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Haunted Destination: Stanley Hotel
Estes Park, Colorado
Photo by: Sean Hobson, flickr
Sean Hobson, flickr
Remember The Shining ? The long hallways of the spooky Stanley Hotel may have inspired Jack Nicholson’s “Here’s Johnny!” meltdown in Stephen King’s famous horror flick, but the hotel owners insist there are no evil spirits lurking in this historic hotel from 1909. Don’t get them wrong -- there’s still plenty of paranormal activity here, just not of the creepy-evil variety. Among the friendly spirits are American businessman Freelan Oscar Stanley and his piano-playing wife Flora -- they’ve both decided to stick around their stately hotel that once catered to the early 20th century’s rich and famous. Hear Flora play a tune on the music room’s piano, catch a glimpse of “F.O.” strolling the lobby and -- if you stay in Room 217 -- be pleasantly surprised to find your bags inexplicably unpacked. The dearly departed chief housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson has a particular affinity for the room, and treats guests to extra housekeeping services from beyond the grave. That friendly gesture may just warm your heart … in between giving you goose bumps.
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6 things I saw during my stay at the 'haunted' Stanley Hotel
I was expecting lots of snow, monotone twins in blue dresses inviting me to play and, perhaps, a small boy on a tricycle. While the iconic Stanley Hotel delivered on the weather, the property that inspired Stephen King's "The Shining" missed on the ghost sightings and blood-filled bathtubs.
That doesn't mean it wasn't a noteworthy visit, though. Since high school, when "The Shining" was required reading for my 11th grade English class, I've dreamed of staying at the Stanley Hotel.
Although possibly a letdown for ghost hunters , it was still a movie geek's dream . When I wasn't spending time exploring Colorado's Estes Park, a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park (which we decided not to visit, due to the weather), I was busy taking tours of the historic 1909 building and staying the night in one of its rooms.
From dark, drafty hallways and old-world ballrooms to shops selling keychains and shot glasses, my experience at the Stanley Hotel was equal parts creepy, classy and kitschy. Here are six notable things I saw during my visit.
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Snow, snow and more snow
My late-December stay at the property was a one-night pit stop on a road trip from Denver to Salt Lake City with my boyfriend. To his dismay as a Florida native, we were met with temperatures in the teens and big, fat snowflakes worthy of the fictional Overlook Hotel.
What was not similar, however, was the number of guests. When I booked our room, the main building was nearly sold out, despite the time of year and the frigid forecast.
Thankfully, we were prepared with weather-appropriate clothing, but we did have to make an emergency run to a local hardware store to buy a snow brush for the truck. By the time we parked and walked to the front entrance of the main building to check in, my hands were so numb that I needed help removing my credit card from my wallet when we got to the desk.
A theatrical central lobby
Crossing the threshold into the hotel's main lobby felt like stepping back in time. Its rich colors, ornate carpeting and multiple fireplaces still decorated for the holidays made it easy for me to imagine how the other half lived in the early 20th century — until I found out the aesthetic wasn't at all authentic, that is.
On the daytime tour we took, the guide told us the original lobby was done up in light colors and looked much simpler than it appears today. (If you've ever seen the movie "Dumb and Dumber," you can catch a glimpse of its previous state in the scenes from the Danbury Hotel, for which the Stanley Hotel was used.)
From the beginning, King was unhappy with Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining," which was filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. In the 1990s, King decided to remake the movie into a television special, with filming taking place at the Stanley Hotel.
Wishing to capitalize on the opportunity, hotel management agreed to anything King wanted, including a full remodel of the lobby's decor and color scheme. The room was darkened to King's specifications, including the painting of its plaster beams to look like wood. Even the grand staircase (which also appears in "Dumb and Dumber" during the "race you to the top" scene) was altered to make it appear more ominous. Personally, I think it's an improvement.
I couldn't get enough of the display of vintage room keys behind the front desk or the rickety elevator, from which I kept expecting an undead bellhop to emerge.
A hedge maze that's nonlethal (to most of us)
When we checked in, I was delighted to find that we had been given a room on the fourth floor, which is rumored to be the most haunted. (Sadly, we didn't have any ghostly encounters, but there were plenty of loud teens running up and down the halls searching for ghosts at all hours.) Our window was in one of the main building's front-facing dormers, offering a perfect overhead view of the famed hedge maze. The property didn't always have one, though.
What started as a terrifying figment of King's imagination became something guests asked about so often that one was planted on the property in 2015.
On one of our tours, we were told that during its first two years, the maze was completely eaten by local elk. As a result, the original plants were replaced with juniper, which is mildly poisonous if eaten.
The vegetation is only about 4 feet high, and in its entirety, the maze is fairly small. (Read: There's no chance you'll get lost.) It's still a fun way to spend a few minutes, though.
While I was in our room, I opened the window to snap some photos of the maze. To my amusement, several people below saw me and started screaming, "There's someone in the window!" I just chuckled and waved. On my next trip back, I'm planning to don some early 20th-century garb and let out a few bloodcurdling screams for added effect.
References to "Redrum" ("murder" spelled backward) are common throughout the hotel. A small shop in the lobby offers mugs, shot glasses, shirts and postcards emblazoned with the word, and the hotel's attached Cascades Restaurant & Lounge features a pricey "Redrum Punch" cocktail made with framboise, rum, blackberry liqueur, agave, lime and pineapple. (Try it. Thank me later. And, while you're there, venture into the restaurant section to see if you can spot the framed moon landing newspaper article Jim Carey's character makes a fuss over in "Dumb and Dumber.")
The hotel basement's Colorado Cherry Company also has a "Redrum Latte" on its menu, mixing cherry, vanilla and butter rum flavors with a traditional latte. It was a tasty if overdone morning pick-me-up. (The cafe is also the place to go for excellent breakfast sandwiches.)
Unfortunately, nobody managed to scrawl "Redrum" on our hotel room door using red lipstick — an oversight, I'm sure — but it popped up just sparingly enough throughout our time there that it felt like smart marketing instead of a tacky cash grab.
A totally unremarkable Room 217
Playing tourist isn't usually my bag, but I just couldn't resist seeking out Room 217, where King stayed for one night before coming up with the idea for "The Shining." The room is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a maid who was caught in a gas explosion there during a 1911 power outage.
As the story goes, King and his wife were headed out of town for a weekend getaway when weather derailed their plans, forcing them to spend the night at the Stanley Hotel. At the time, it was only open during the warmer months. Because the staff was just about to close for the season, the only room that still had linens was Room 217, so that's where they stayed.
In the middle of the night, King woke from a dream in which his son, who was not on the trip, was being strangled in the hallway by a fire hose — a scene that fans of "The Shining" will surely know by heart. (Following the success of the film, the hotel removed the fire hoses from its hallways for safety reasons after finding parents staging photos of their children wrapped up in them.)
In "The Shining," the room is haunted by the ghost of a former guest who committed suicide after an affair with an unfaithful bellhop.
Adding to the mystery is what allegedly happened to actor Jim Carey when he stayed in Room 217 while filming "Dumb and Dumber." He woke up in the middle of the night, stumbled down the stairs in his boxers and insisted that the front desk not only switch him to a different room but to another hotel entirely, according to our tour guide. To this day, he won't talk about what he saw.
Although there are several other reportedly haunted rooms at the Stanley, the popularity of Room 217 is legendary. In Kubrick's film, the number was changed to 237 at the request of the Timberline, which was worried guests wouldn't want to book Room 217 if they thought it was haunted.
Unfortunately for them, Room 237 doesn't exist at their property, and the Stanley says 217 has become its most requested accommodation, with reservations currently on the books for the next several Halloweens.
We sought out the room, but it was disappointingly normal, at least from the outside. The only difference I noticed is that it has a number plate that doesn't match the ones for the other rooms. (We're told that's because so many people have stolen it over the years that the wall behind it is permanently damaged. If you're tempted to steal it, don't. Grab a replica at the gift shop instead.)
Staying in the room is now a bucket list item for me; should it happen, I'll report back on what, if anything, I experience inside.
Underground tunnels (where someone actually died)
As part of the Historic Stanley Night Tour, we were able to step inside part of the tunnels that used to run beneath the property's several buildings, allowing workers to move between key areas without being seen by the hotel's well-to-do guests.
Although the tunnels were filled in years ago for safety reasons, parts of them are still used by staff to this day, mainly to access their break room. The part that's shown to visitors is only accessible by tour, and it creates a dark, dank place for the guide to spin ghost stories, including one about a French cook who was killed when part of the tunnel collapsed on him while on his way to the women's dorms. He's said to roam around down there from time to time, but he must have been on vacation when we visited.
The most startling thing I saw on the nighttime tour was a CPR dummy that someone had hidden off to one side near the ceiling.
Ultimately, I'm not convinced the hotel is as haunted as thrill-seeking visitors hope, but it does make for a fun weekend away, especially if you're a fan of "The Shining" or "Dumb and Dumber." The tours are worth the price of admission, as is a stay so you can experience the historical building for yourself.
If nothing else, you can take advantage of the breathtaking scenery, good food and adorable shops in the town of Estes Park. And who knows? If you're lucky, you might even spot a ghost or two.