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“No ghosts, but a lot of history” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Stanley Hotel

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Stanley Hotel
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   333 Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #15 of 30 Hotels in Estes Park
Brookings, Oregon
Top Contributor
125 reviews 125 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 47 cities Reviews in 47 cities
115 helpful votes 115 helpful votes
“No ghosts, but a lot of history”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2013

The Stanley Hotel is currently most famous for being the hotel where "The Shining" TV miniseries (not the movie) was filmed. True, author Stephen King thought up the idea for the book while staying at The Stanley, but the only ghosts were in his imagination. In gratitude, he insisted the miniseries be filmed here, which gave the dilapidated old grand hotel the funds for a decent restoration.

Prior to King, The Stanley was most famous for being the creation of F.O. Stanley, who, along with his twin brother F.E., invented the film process they sold to Eastman-Kodak, manufactured the Stanley Steamer, the best-selling car in America around 1900, and hand crafted concert-quality violins just for fun. Stanley came to Estes Park to cure his tuberculosis, built the large hotel complex and virtually the entire infrastructure of the town. The grateful locals insisted the hotel be named after him, over his protests. The whole story can be found in "Great Lodges of the National Parks, Volume Two" by Christine Barnes. The Stanley also offers history tours that cover the same topics. The Stanley isn't exactly within the boundary of Rocky Mountains National Park, which Stanley helped found, but it's close.

We were looking forward to a true "Great Lodges" historical experience here, and we weren't disappointed. The Stanley is a complex of buildings, not just one hotel. Right next to the main hotel is a half-scale version once used to house bachelors. Lots of area in the main hotel and outbuildings is now used for conferences and events, which was the only annoying aspect of The Stanley for us. The entire complex gets pretty frenetic during the day, with historic tours, haunted tours, museum tours, fire-truck rides, etc. The Stanley was a labor of love for F.O. and his wife, and they didn't mind spending their large fortune on it. It never really made any money for any owner, so today it does pretty much anything for a buck, so it's like a Victorian Disneyland during the day. The top floor is pretty crazy at night too, with ghost tours. Still, its period architecture is beautiful, and it all feels so authentic, though almost all of the original furniture was sold off years ago.

Our "historic" room (read small) on the second floor looked a bit worn, though it had been recently repainted. We could tell because there were paint spots on everything. I guess the painters didn't use drop cloths. There is no air-conditioning in the hotel, and it can get surprisingly hot at 9,000 feet in Estes Park. We had to leave the windows open all night. Fortunately, we had them on two sides of the room. The rooms across the hall on the sunny side of the building really heated up. We saw fans in the windows of all the upper floor rooms, but our ceiling fan was sufficient. At least the tour noise subsided after 10 p.m., and no one walked into our room through the open windows, which they could have done easily. Also, no ghosts. There was no fridge or microwave, not even any information on the hotel in the room. The bed and pillows were comfy and supportive. There was also no fan or ventilation in the bathroom. As I said, it was a historical experience, but we felt at home there. It was a bit pricey for what it was, yet priceless in a unique way. Cascades Dining Room was just another Colorado sports bar, though a nice one, but with no historical feeling at all. We preferred breakfast in the basement at Steamers Cafe, the Stanley's version of a Starbucks.

If you are a history, great lodges, or Stephen King buff, this is the only place to stay in Estes Park. If you are just looking for lodging close to the national park, there are probably better options for the money.

Room Tip: Noisy ghost tours go by the upper floor rooms at night.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesse F, Manager at Stanley Hotel, responded to this review, October 18, 2013
Thanks for your comments on your recent stay. There is definitely quite the history to the Stanley Hotel and I am glad to hear someone that knows it well! We hope you will be back to stay in the future!

Sincerely,

Jesse Freitas

Guest Services Manager
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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Pensacola
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2013

We stayed at the Stanley in early September on our way through Rocky Mountain National Park. The scenery in Estes Park is gorgeous. We chose not to stay in the main hotel (the 1909 elevator was on the blink), so we stayed in the Lodge adjacent. A nice room, but small. Parking was convenient, and the elk herd grazed next to our room. The only negative event of our stay was being locked out of our room at checkout, unable to retrieve our luggage, which was resolved by staff after an hour and a half.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesse F, Manager at Stanley Hotel, responded to this review, October 18, 2013
Glad to hear you enjoyed your stay overall! Sorry for the little hiccup at the end but glad it was resolved. We look forward to having you back in the future!

Jesse Freitas

Guest Services Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lancaster, PA
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 20, 2013

We enjoy staying in old hotels and visited The Stanley on our recent trip to Rocky Mt. National Park. (Fortunately our trip was the week before the terrible flooding!) It was chaotic when we arrived because the lobby was jam-packed with people due to a Ghost Tour and a wedding that was being rained on.... but after navigating through the front desk formalities, we found our room to be spacious, clean, and quiet. The views from the room were also quite spectacular! I agree with another reviewer that the bedding should be upgraded, and although I missed having A/C, 2 floor fans & another small fan were provided in addition to the ceiling fan. We ate at the Cascades Restaurant for dinner and breakfast and my husband and I both agreed the food was very good. The grounds were well maintained and you just cannot beat LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Room Tip: We stayed in a King Deluxe on the 4h floor which was at the end of the building and had gorgeous vie...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesse F, Manager at Stanley Hotel, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Thank you for your comments on your recent stay. I am glad you were able to enjoy your stay and appreciate the feedback. We hope to have you back in the near future!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bedford, Texas
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2013

If you are looking for new, freshly painted and modern, forget this hotel. If you are looking for history, old time charm, great service, and a wonderful experience, then this is the place. The location is spectacular, the town fun, the wildlife and scenery excellent. The elk/buffalo/pork meatloaf was to die for.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesse F, Manager at Stanley Hotel, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Glad to hear you enjoyed the atmosphere and charm of the Stanley Hotel! Chef Rich's meatloaf is definitely to die for! Hope to see you back soon.
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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2013

My stay at the Stanley was a pilgrimage of sorts, having been a fan of Stephen King for more than half my life. I knew all the lore and facts and trivia about the property long before ever dreaming of actually staying there. We decided to stay in the main building, because we wanted the full experience.

All in all, the property delivers what is expected. A historic building that is maintained in ways to keep it as vintage as possible. What this means for the guest is that the elevator will only work some of the time, there is no AC, and hot water can be a luxury.

First let me start off with the good: The building itself is gorgeous. We had such a good time just walking around inside and out, looking in amazement at the historic hotel, and the amazing views of Estes Park from every side of it. The bar and Cascades restaurant were excellent as well. The food was delicious, prepared fresh (as are most things in CO), and we felt they were priced very fairly. Our room was a King Deluxe on the 2nd floor and we felt it was spacious and comfortable on the whole. The bathroom was clean and the toiletries were adequate. Everything in the hotel appeared to be well-maintained and clean. Noise was minimal, even while sleeping with the windows open. In the basement, they have a butterfly hatchery, which are released once a week I think. This was very impressive.

Now for the...not really bad...but less impressive things: First, the entire thing was more campy than I was expecting. This is, first and foremost, a historic hotel on the National Registry of Historic Places. I expected a bit more elegance and a bit less Stephen King tourist trap. But I also understand they have to make money, and a lot of that comes from King fans like me. Most of the basement is devoted to memorabilia from the movies that were filmed on location, including the dollhouse that was on the front lawn in the Shining miniseries. There was also a large room devoted to the "haunted history of the Stanley" which was locked and open for paid admission only. There were also doors labelled "tunnels," but we were denied access to these as well. I'm sorry, but when I pay this much to stay in a hotel, I expect to be able to see as much of it as I wish without paying extra. I can see paying the tourists that drop in but don't stay, but paying guests should be able to see these areas if they wish. The same was true for the music room and a couple other rooms upstairs. They were only available to the tour groups. That was very disappointing.

As for the room, it was adequate at best. The bed seemed comfortable, but by morning we both had sore backs. Again, for a hotel charging this much per night, better bedding is not only expected, it is a necessity. There was no hot water at all in our shower. I figured this was to be expected in an old hotel. I did mention it at the desk at checkout and the clerk looked shocked and said we should have had hot water. They reduced our bill for the inconvenience, and that was a nice touch.

The part that shocked me the most was that only guests at The Lodge get free breakfast, even though they paid less per night. I am still scratching my head over that one. Is it that hard to bring a tray of pastries upstairs from the cafe in the basement, or is this just one more way to milk every penny possible out of the guests?

All in all the Stanley is a must stop while in Estes Park. The history and the gorgeous views alone are reason enough. Cascades restaurant is another good reason to stop. I understand that the newer rooms in The Lodge are more comfortable, so consider those if you plan to stay here.

Room Tip: I would not stay in the main building unless you are an avid Stephen King fan.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesse F, Manager at Stanley Hotel, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Thank you for your comments about your recent stay. We appreciate hearing all feedback about guests stays. Please email me directly if you would like to discuss your stay further at jfreitas@stanleyhotel.com.
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Georgetown, Kentucky
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2013

Let me say this was on my bucket list and the wait was well worth it. It was everything I thought it would be and more, the best part was Estes Park I was not ready for this great little ton. We only stayed three nights but I could of stayed three weeks! The Ghost tour was neat, but noting to fear in this place. Great old world serve and rooms! No better place to stay if you are wanting to check out the national Park! I also used there spa and it was top of the line too!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesse F, Manager at Stanley Hotel, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
We can't wait to have you back! Nice to hear you were able to enjoy the ghost tour and hear about our friendly ghosts.
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South Carrollton, Ky
Top Contributor
202 reviews 202 reviews
59 hotel reviews
Reviews in 92 cities Reviews in 92 cities
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2013 via mobile

We've stayed before & loved it. Stayed in a large mountain-view room. Very clean, comfy room. Good service from all employees we encountered. Only complaint was sink hot water took forever to get hot. Shaving or face washing was done in cold water. Shower & bath water got hot fast. Sit on that front porch awhile to enjoy the scenery---so relaxing after a day in the beautiful mountains. Read about this haunted hotel. Very enjoyable experience.

  • Stayed September 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jesse F, Manager at Stanley Hotel, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Glad to hear you enjoyed your stay. It is always nice relaxing here with the views of the mountains. We look forward to you coming back to stay with us in the future!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Stanley Hotel

Address: 333 Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Location: United States > Colorado > Estes Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#14 Romantic Hotel in Estes Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Stanley Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 130
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Stanley Hotel is a luxurious historic landmark hotel in a spectacular mountain-view location, offering old-world charm matched with the latest of modern amenities. Take a ghosts and history tour... Enjoy free wireless Internet access throughout the property... Indulge in our full-service spa... Experience Cascades Restaurant... Savor a Starbucks’ Coffee... Or just relax and enjoy the view from your luxurious room, suite or private villa! Come, experience The Stanley Hotel: 7,500 feet above the ordinary in beautiful Estes Park, an hour from Denver and minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park.The Stanley Hotel is a luxurious historic landmark hotel in a spectacular mountain-view location, offering old-world charm matched with the latest of modern amenities ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Stanley Estes Park
Stanley Hotel Colorado
Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado

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