Why do I do a men's gift guide every year? Because I am, so they tell me, a man, so I should know, right?
Apparently the Stanley Hotel overwhelms psychics. Claimed one psychic who spent the night there, there were just too many spirits to deal with.
While I may not be psychic, I completely agree that the Stanley is overwhelming — on many levels.
The beauty of the hotel and the mountain surroundings (HOLY ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH! Colorado and Estes Park is GORGEOUS! And the tap water tastes so good!), the gracious and knowledgable staff, the history that pervades every inch of the hotel, and more than anything the ENERGY of the Stanley. There was so much to take in, I was exhausted but giddy by the time I fell into my fluffy, cozy, not-so-spooky-but-maybe-a-little-bit bed.
Alright Creepy Corneristas, two reasons I'm not going to go in depth into the history of the Stanley Hotel in this post:
1) It's 12:20am and I'm SO TIRED. I've been looking forward to writing to you all day, but I've also been driving through Kansas all day too, so let's skip to the good stuff.
2) I think most of you already know about the Stanley, and if you don't you can easily do some Googling to learn about the historic hotel that F.O. and Flora Stanley opened in 1909. I'd rather share my experience with you than give you a rundown of the hotel's history. And, if you didn't know that it is the hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining, then you do now.
So now that that's out of the way, let's get to my experiences at the Stanley.
When Mr. Louise and I pulled into the Stanley, it started to snow. I couldn't help but be thrilled despite my lack of appropriate clothing. I was going to be staying at "The Shining hotel" while it was SNOWING, and I'm a WRITER.
Walking into the lobby, it was like I couldn't open my senses wide enough. I wanted to see, hear, smell, and feel everything. While Mr. Louise checked us in, I enjoyed the sound of the floor creaking under my feet, that sweet "old building" smell, and the warmth coming from the fireplaces.
There is no doubt that there is an energy to the Stanley. Ghostly or not, wherever I walked in the hotel it was thrilling to think that so many eyes had seen what my eyes saw, so many people had walked the same halls that I walked, smelled the same smells, experienced the same excitement at getting to stay at such a luxurious place. We all shared the experience of stepping out of the normalcy of our lives to get a taste of something special at the Stanley.
I think that kind of energy can't help but imprint on a place — whether it's how people carry on traditions or how the place itself holds onto things.
I could wax poetic all night. Maybe I'm romanticizing the hotel, but I went in with such high spirits (it's never going to get old) that, like the St. James Hotel, I felt warm and happy at the Stanley. Creeped out and goosebumps galore, but warm and happy all the same.
Anyway, Mr. Louise and I checked into our room on the fourth floor. The very floor that is reputed to be the most haunted in the hotel. It has numerous "active" rooms that are supposedly very haunted (we requested one with minimal activity, however ALL the rooms at the Stanley have had ghostly reports). Among the activity reported on the floor is children running around and laughing in the halls at odd hours.
More on that later.
The room was small and welcoming with a slanted ceiling and a great view of the garden and hotel grounds. Like the hallway outside the door, it felt old and authentic to the historic charm of the hotel, but also comfortably modern and well-maintained. And there was more of that intoxicating "old house" smell too.
After we got settled in, we headed down to the Stanley's Tour Office, where we were able to join a "ghost tour" of the grounds. Normally I'm very wary of ghost tours, but I figured this would be a good way to learn more about the hotel and get to visit parts of the hotel we normally wouldn't be allowed into.
The tour took us to the Concert Hall (supposedly one of the most haunted parts of the hotel), the basement of the Hall where even more activity has been reported, the tunnels beneath the hotel, and many of the grand event/gathering rooms in the main building.
With the tour conducted almost entirely in the dark, we had the opportunity to just spend time in each location — sometimes just sitting quietly in near pitch black. Talk about FEELING the energy of a place. I didn't experience anything all that weird, but I loved hearing about other people's experiences from the guide.
After the tour, Mr. Louise and I got some dinner, and then wandered around the hotel, floor by floor, on our own. This is where the Stanley started getting a little "interesting" for me.
We walked the second floor, and aside from this hallway with this funhouse-like mirror, nothing felt amiss.
As we headed toward the stairs for the third floor, I caught myself hesitating. Was it the kinda-creepy stairs? Was I tired and all the ghost talk was finally getting to me? Were my creepy senses tingling? Were my goosebumps just from the cold?
Laughing it off with Mr. Louise, we climbed the stairs to the third floor. Our mood remained light, but I realized I was pushing myself a little to remain cheery. Yep, I was feeling a mix of anticipation and good ol' fashioned heebie-jeebies. The third floor was lovely but uneventful. We climbed to the fourth floor.
Maybe it was just me, but the fourth just seemed darker than the other floors.
Chatting quietly with each other, we walked around the fourth floor, snapping pictures and catching snippets of conversation from behind closed hotel room doors (it's an old building, everybody can hear everybody).
At one point, we walked to the end of one hallway with a window at the end. Snapping some shots out the window, we turned around and started back down the hallway to go to our room. About a quarter of the way down the hallway, I heard the creak of a door opening ahead of us. Walking on, I saw that a door to our left was open about three inches, but the room inside was completely dark. My husband and I stopped and watched the door.
"Someone is screwing with us," Mr. Louise said. I think I answered in the affirmative.
As we watched the door slowly closed, and we heard scratching, a bang, and scuffling from the other side, then silence. We kept walking.
Alright Creepy Corneristas, my first thought is that someone was indeed messing with us. It was almost too perfectly ghostly. Either way, part of me was delighted. I'm happy to enjoy the chills where I can get them.
We got back to our room, and Mr. Louise fell asleep within minutes, leaving me to flip through the TV waiting to get sleepy.
I must have dozed off, because around 2am I was startled awake by the sound of children stampeding down my hallway. There was no mistaking the sound of little feet and little voices running past my door. I could feel the vibrations pounding on the floor. At the time, I thought nothing of it. Half asleep, I thought, "What the shit are kids doing running around at this hour?"
It wasn't until the next morning that I realized that a) 2am stampeding children is weird, and b) the fourth floor is known for spooky children running around at all hours of the night.
Look, I'm not saying, "THERE WERE GHOSTS OUTSIDE MY DOOR!" but you have to admit, it's wonderfully in keeping with the reports on the floor. Actually, the Stanley has gotten complaints in the past of "noisy children" running around and playing in the middle of the night. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if there actually were rowdy (alive) kids running by my door, but what if...?
Whatever it is, I'm pleased to have it as part of my Stanley experience.
The rest of my Stanley stay was peaceful and non-creepy. I'm inclined to think nothing really happened to me, but I had a great time nonetheless. It's all about just getting into the — I don't want to say it again but — the SPIRIT of things. What's the point of staying at the Stanley Hotel if you're not going to keep an open mind and be willing to have a little fun?
So in a teeny-tiny nutshell, that was my Stanley Hotel visit. I feel like I could write multiple posts about the Stanley — so much for keeping these road trip posts short!
But what a dream: I got to spend the night in the Stanley Hotel. Pinch me.
Believe me when I say I thought of all you Creepy Corneristas in every dark hallway, with every floorboard moan. Thank you for "traveling" with me, and thank you for delighting in the spookiness as much as I do.
Next stop? Atchison, Kansas and the Glick Mansion!