In October 1974, ascendant horror writer Stephen King and his wife spent a night in a cavernous old hotel at the foot of the Colorado Rockies. With the winter barrage of snow and cold looming, the hotel was about to close for the season, leaving King and his wife as its sole guests. After eating in a grand yet empty dining room – with the chairs up on every table except his – and walking through the endless empty hallways, a new novel began to take shape in King’s mind.
That night, King had a terrifying dream about his son being chased through the hotel’s halls by a fire hose, and immediately after, he knew he had to write. “I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies,” he later said, “and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.”
That book, The Shining, introduced that hotel, the Stanley in Estes Park, Colorado, to an entirely new generation. Soon, this faded remnant of early 20th century high life was reborn as “The Shining hotel.” Once you step inside the Stanley, you realize just how much life both does and does not imitate art: