In celebration of my mom's birthday and the Halloween spirit, my family and I decided to spend a night at the (supposedly haunted) Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

The hotel is most widely known for inspiring Stephen King's famous horror novel The Shining, which tells the tale of a man who goes crazy and tries to murder his family while trapped in the snowed-in Overlook Hotel.

As a fan of the book (and the 1980 movie), I came to The Stanley with high expectations, fully prepared to witness some sort of paranormal activity.

However, after my stay, I arrived at this conclusion: The Stanley Hotel is not haunted.

A lounging area in The Lodge building of The Stanley Hotel.
A lounging area in The Lodge building of The Stanley Hotel.

Despite the ties to The Shining and some creepy furniture, there is nothing scary about the hotel. It's full of life, from the hundreds of tourists to the accommodating waitstaff.

Even at night everything seemed normal — I fell asleep in a comfortable bed to the sound of South Park playing on the room's flat screen television.

After doing some research, I found that the hotel has actually led a fairly peaceful existence, free of murders or exorcisms.

It was started in 1909 by Freelan and Flora Stanley, an east coast couple who had moved to Colorado with the hope that the clean air would improve Freelan's health. It did, and the couple enjoyed the beauty of Estes Park well into old age.

So, all of this 'haunted' business really started with King, who came up with the plot for his novel after having a nightmare during his stay at the hotel in 1974.

Since then, the hotel has ran with the idea, providing night-time spirit tours and live theatrical seances. 

My family with Claire Voyant, the Mistress of Mentalism and seance hostess.
My family with Claire Voyant (second from right), the Mistress of Mentalism and seance hostess.

My family and I attended the latter, and were treated to an hour of fun illusions designed to summon the ghost of Flora Stanley. While I don't believe any of the rituals actually contacted her ghost, the tricks were pretty mind-blowing and a lot of fun to watch.

Now, before you get too disappointed, I will say that I only stayed at the hotel for one night and have never been very in tune with my "sixth sense," so maybe there is a ghost or two lurking in one of the Stanley's multiple buildings.

The view from The Lodge Building.
The view from The Lodge Building.

Whether your believe in the paranormal or not, the hotel offers eerie decorations, gorgeous views of Estes Park, and a delicious variety of cocktails and other drinks.

My favorite? The Redrum.

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