Walking through the historic Stanley Hotel, it’s easy to understand how it inspired popular horror writer Stephen King to pen his 1977 masterpiece, The Shining. This 1909 Colonial Revival building in Estes Park, Colorado, is considered one of the world’s most-haunted hotels.

Guests complain of an eerie feeling inside the wood-clad walls of the billiard room, where the star-spangled banner hangs above the fireplace. Take a closer look, and you might see the face the hotel’s original owner, Freelan Stanley, in the top right-hand corner. His wife, Flora, can often be heard playing the piano in the ballroom. While on the fourth floor, you might encounter the apparition of the friendly cowboy in Room 428, or experience the closet door in Room 401 open, then slam shut on its own.

Guests on the fourth floor have been known to call the front desk reporting the sound of children running, balls bouncing and halls filled with laughter. Undoubtedly, the most paranormally popular room is the now infamous 217—the room King stayed in—where the spirit of a former housekeeper apparently hangs out, turning the lights on and off and dutifully unpacking the bags of guests. Some blame the hotel’s high paranormal activity on collective hysteria, the quartz, magnetite and limestone in the earth beneath the site, or, simply, spirits who have yet to check out.

Read more: 26 Reasons to Travel in 2019, From ‘A’ to ‘Z’


[This story appears in the January 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]