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The Shining features Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Stanley Kubrick at the absolute top of their respective games. Another crucial aspect of the film was the setting: without the creepy visages of the Overlook Hotel, it’s fair to say the film wouldn’t have worked as well as it did.

But what inspired Kubrick (and Stephen King, the author who wrote the film the book is based on)? Where did King get the idea for the Overlook? And can you stay at the hotel that was actually used for the filming location?

Where Stephen King got his inspiration for the Overlook Hotel

Jack Nicholson In 'The Shining'
Jack Nicholson In ‘The Shining’ | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

While Kubrick helped bring Overlook to life, it came from the mind of King. According to, the hotel that inspired King to think of the haunted Overlook Hotel is called The Stanley.

It’s located in Estes Park, CO, close to the Rocky Mountains. The story behind King’s inspiration is that he and his wife checked in there in 1973 for one evening exactly. 

King and his wife realized they were the only guests in the entire hotel. King felt another presence there, however, possibly a supernatural one.

They slept in Room 217, which has become the establishment’s most famous room. King took the experience of staying in this massive, haunted hotel alone and allowed that to fuel his imagination. He later wrote The Shining based on this experience. 

The Stanley Hotel is also haunted

As noted above, getting a room at the Stanley is no easy task. That’s because of its association with King’s novel and Kubrick’s film. But rumor has it that hotel is haunted as well.

According to Locations Hub, the legend is that in 1917, housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson was in Room 217, lighting the room’s lanterns. One of the lanterns burst into flame, cratering the floor below her. Wilson fell down a floor, shockingly living through the disturbance. 

Despite the fact that Wilson didn’t lose her life in the ordeal, guests have sworn for many years that they believe they see her spirit in the room from time to time. This ghost story is a big hit with guests, which is why Room 217 is the hotel’s most popular room.

While Room 217 gets the most bookings, the most ghost sightings occur on the Stanley’s fourth floor. That’s where people report spooky occurrences such as lights coming on and off and mysterious shadows appearing on the windows. 

The Stanley is a must-see for travelers who double as big King fans. But while it is associated with The Shining, it’s not where the actual movie was filmed. That happened somewhere else. 

Can you stay at the filming location for the Overlook Hotel? 


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According to History Daily, the actual site for the filming of the exterior scenes for the Overlook Hotel was in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon at a place known as Timberline Lodge, bordering Mount Hood National Forest.  It’s unclear whether Kubrick considered filming the movie at the Stanley, but when he saw Timberline Lodge, he knew he’d found his perfect location.

It was built in 1938 and is now a National Historic Landmark. The filming of the interior scenes took place inside a studio. 

So can you stay at Timberline? The answer, according to the facility website, is yes. The lodge offers anyone the ability to book an overnight stay in the spooky location where Kubrick made movie magic.

Of course, if a haunted experience is what you’re after, you may have better luck at the Stanley. You can also book a trip there according to that hotel’s website