A Stay at the Historic Stanley Hotel

Last month my dad and I trekked out to Colorado for our annual dad-daughter trip and decided to split our time between Denver and Estes Park. Admittedly, one of the main reasons we chose the location was wanting to stay at the famous and historic Stanley Hotel. And now that I’ve been, I can confidently say that if you find yourself planning a trip to Colorado, Estes Park is definitely the place to go and The Stanley Hotel is the place to stay!

Stanley Hotel

History

In the early 1900s, F.O. Stanley (founder of the Stanley Steamer car) and his wife had moved out to Estes Park from the east coast after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and only given six months to live. A few years later, Stanley seemed to be miraculously cured and decided to build The Stanley Hotel as a summer resort, which opened in 1909. Early guests included high-class families like the Rockefellers, Kennedys, and Vanderbuilts, who were friends of F.O. and his wife, and the rooms filled up quickly each summer, so much so that they had to turn people away!

At the time F.O. opened the hotel, there wasn’t much going on in Estes Park, so he set out to boost the local economy and tourism in the city. And boy did he succeed! Not only did he build a road from Lyons, another popular Colorado destination, but he also brought visitors in via the Stanley Steamer car versus having them take a train ride out to the resort (which was what people did back then). And by his last year (1940), he had established sewer, power, and water companies, Estes Park’s first bank, AND helped to restore wildlife to the area.

In more recent history, you might be familiar with The Stanley Hotel as the inspiration behind Stephen King’s The Shining. At the time Stephen King stayed at the famous hotel in the 1970s, it was still a summer-only resort and Estes Park hadn’t been the fully developed town it is today. Who knows, if you stay at the hotel maybe you’ll be inspired to write a best-selling novel! After all, the setting of The Stanley is absolutely STUNNING and oh so peaceful!

Location

The Stanley Hotel is tucked away in Estes Park, in the Rocky Mountains (check out the view from the hotel’s front yard!), about an hour and a half outside of Denver. Because it’s so far outside of the metro area, most people rent a car, but we opted to Uber out to the hotel, and take the Estes Park airport shuttle bus back. It ended up working out really well and saved us a lot of time and money!

The Room

Our room was located on the second floor in the main building and had a very historic look and feel, including photos from “back in the day” on property. How fun to imagine what life was like in the very places we stood!

We appreciated the mini-couches for sitting/luggage holding at the foot of each bed as well. I hate leaving my suitcase on the floor, and it helped us feel a little more at home being able to set up our own luggage station. The bathroom was more modernized with newer accessories and design, but you’ll notice the base of the sink is still a bit older. We could tell that while modernizing for guests is important, The Stanley is adamant about keeping those historic roots in place as well!

Dining

There are three places to dine at The Stanley Hotel – Steamer’s Cafe, Cascades, and Table. For breakfast or a quick bite, you can pop into Steamer’s. If you need to hop on the computer, this is the place to do, and you can also check out the incredible wildlife photos taken in Estes Park of all kinds of animals in the night!

The second, Cascades, a bar/restaurant, where we spent quite a bit of time! Let me start by saying if you’re an NFL fan and staying at The Stanley on a game day, you’ll be pleased to know the hotel has the football package so you won’t miss out on any football! As an Eagles fan, my dad was thrilled. Because despite being on vacation, watching the game was a must! And their bacon mac + cheese?! STELLAR, guys.

During our two-night stay at The Stanley Hotel, Cascades was hoppin’ day and night! And after our dinner in the restaurant, we totally see why. For starters, we ordered a caesar salad and grilled pear bruschetta. Both were different than the “standard” look of the dishes we’re used to seeing, but were absolutely delish, especially the seasonal pear bruschetta!

For the main course, I opted for a steak and my dad went for the game meatloaf. Both of these were gobbled up pretty quickly because they were SO good. In fact, my dad even stated that it was the best meatloaf he’d EVER had in a restaurant! By the time main courses were over, we shook our head at dessert, thinking we couldn’t possibly eat another bite. But our waitress assured us that dessert at Cascades shouldn’t be missed so we went for it. And boy am I glad we did! The raspberry sorbet crumble was out of this world!

Cascades is also home to the Whiskey Bar Colorado’s largest selection of whiskeys, bourbons, and scotch. And get this. Around 1,200 different whiskeys!! I had no idea so many varieties even existed! We sat down with one of the whiskey experts and were able to chat for a bit and do an international whiskey tasting which was really cool! I can’t even imagine how crazy it must be to be the keeper of the whiskeys!


Third and most unique, Table Restaurant, which is located in The Lodge, next to the main building. Each weekend, the hotel brings in a new chef to concoct a special themed menu for a five-course dinner. See the plates lining the top of the room? Those are all signed by guest chefs from Table!

Entertainment

There is SO much to do at The Stanley Hotel that you don’t even really need to leave the hotel grounds! My absolute favorite was the 90-minute Illusions of the Passed show by Aiden Sinclair (who appeared on America’s Got Talent)! Sinclair’s show consisted of historical and ghost stories and haunted artifacts, and kept the audience engaged and in awe the whole time. Not to mention EVERYONE in the room participated in some way, which was even more thrilling. I’m still trying to wrap my head around one of the parts I participated in!

On the hotel property, you can also take advantage of the REI Basecamp (yes, it’s on-site), which runs in summer and winter months. At the Basecamp, you can participate in guided hikes and take classes in things like first aid essentials and wilderness survival! While I don’t plan on ever getting lost in the wilderness, I’m fascinated by the man vs. wild life, and hey, it never hurts to be prepared! Plus, if the zombie apocalypse ever happens, you’d have a major leg up!

The Stanley also offers two tours for guests – a nightly ghost tour, and a historic tour. If you have extra time during your stay, I highly recommend taking one! We went on the historic tour and learned so much about not only the hotel’s history, but about life in the early 1900s, and about Estes Park. Plus, if you’re into hauntings, you’ll hear a story or two!

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This post is in partnership with The Stanley Hotel.
  • Wow! What a GORGEOUS hotel! I love all of the history it holds, and the food looks delicious.

    • It’s an incredible property! I couldn’t recommend a stay more!

  • That hotel is beautiful!!!! All of your food looks so yummy!!! I have never been to CO before but I will have to add this to my never ending list of places to visit!

    • It really is! The food was delicious + the views were incredible! Definitely one to add to the list!

  • This hotel is just gorgeous! I’d absolutely love to stay here.

    • It was such an awesome place to stay! I hope you’re able to plan a visit, Jenny!

  • Kari Guastella

    What a beautiful place to stay!
    Kari
    http://sweetteasweetie.com/texas-cinnamon-butter/

    • It truly is, Kari! Keep it on your radar if you’re planning travels to CO :)

  • What an amazing trip! Loving this hotel. Adding it to my travel list for 2017!

    Rachel / http://www.seashellsandsparkles.com

    • It was a blast! I hope you’re able to get there this year!

  • Ahh I am so jealous! I am planning a trip to Colorado soon, and Ill have to at least have one night here!

    http://www.repressingthecrazy.com

  • trenara

    That hotel is beautiful and great pics, felt as though I was there as well, thank you for sharing!

  • MGTPA

    The only thing better than the that hotel was your traveling companion!!

  • This place looks amazing! My husband’s family is talking about a family trip to Colorado next year, but I know they want to stay at a ski resort. I’d rather stay here! ;)

    • It’s pretty awesome! You should see if you can convince them to break away for a night or two to stay here :)

  • Carly Ned

    Wow! Looks beautiful! I love all the pictures! I absolutely love hotels. Looks like you had a great time :)

  • Kristin Davies

    This looks like a beautiful place to stay. Love all the history that goes along with it. And all that yummy food!!!

    • It was! I can’t wait to get back out there again!

  • First, I love that you and your dad do a trip together! So cool! And this sounds like such an amazing place to stay! I love that they stick to their historic roots.

    • Thanks, Laura! I do a separate trip with my mom as well. I think the quality time is so important! We had a great stay here and the historic roots was one of my favorites too! So fascinating!

  • I’ve always wanted to visit here! After I read The Shining for the first time (one of my favorite books ever), I researched a bit about the inspiration for the book and discovered that the hotel was based on a real one. Ever since then, The Stanley has been on my must-visit list! My brother-in-law lived out in CO for a few years before he got married to my sister, and he was one of the tour guides at the Stanley. He’s got all of these great behind-the-scenes stories that make me want to go even more. He said that it was super spooky after the late night tours when there weren’t many other hotel staff members around!

    • That was exactly how I discovered it too! Visiting was wonderful because we were able to see so much more that the hotel offered that we hadn’t known about. So awesome that your brother-in-law was a tour guide there!! I hope you can plan a trip out for a stay one of these days to experience it yourself :)

      • I hope so, too! My husband’s brother (my brother-in-law on the other side–not the one who was the tour guide) moved out to CO with his family a few years ago, and we’re the only ones in the immediate family who haven’t been out to visit them. Oops! Whenever we do make it out there, we’re hoping to tack on a bit of sightseeing before or after we visit them since getting from SC to CO is going to be a bit of a production!

  • Ashley

    Wow!! Adding this to my MUST see list! It looks like a beautiful place to stay!

    xo Ashley

  • Nanci C.

    Oh wow! I so want to visit here!!!!!

    • You’d love it, Nanci! I hope you can plan a trip soon! I’d love to hear your thoughts if/when you do!

  • Pennies In My Pocket

    This looks like such a lovely place to stay. You have definitely convinced me to consider planning a trip for myself.

    • Thank you! So glad to hear it – I know you’d love it :)

  • Annie

    My sister just moved out to Colorado and I’m dying to go visit. This hotel looks beautiful, glad you had a great time!

    -Annie
    http://www.discoveringyourhappy.com

    • Oh you definitely should! Colorado is SO beautiful + they have lots of great food, haha.

  • WOW!!! This is totally right up my alley, being a history buff. Looks incredible and so fun!

    • It is! You should definitely try to plan a trip out there, Chelsea!

  • I love anything historical and I love the way this hotel looks! My life goal is to visit every state, so I’m doing this when I go to Colorado!

    • Love it! I’m hoping to visit every state too.. long way to go still, haha. Do you have any trips coming up to new states?

  • Abbey Phipps

    It’s absolutely beautiful! My husband loves history, so this would be a perfect destination for us! :)

    • It really is, you guys would love it! Something to keep in mind when planning your upcoming travels :)

  • Jae

    We drove by Estes Park when we went to the Rocky Mountain National Park in November for my birthday weekend! So bummed that we didn’t stop by; I was probably asleep on our way down from the mountain! This hotel is so beautiful!

    • Something about the mountains.. I was so sleepy during the drive up from Denver too, haha. You’ll just have to plan another trip back ;)

  • nataliejharms

    What a cutie hotel :) <3

    -Natalie from itsnothouitsme.com

    • It was a lovely stay – can’t wait to get back!

  • Wow! This looks like an amazing place to stay!

    Liz
    http://Www.lizzieinlace.com

  • Dawn Princess Darnell

    How gorgeous is that hotel! Looks like you had a wonderful time!

    • We did! The hotel is absolutely beautiful. I love all of the history too!

  • This hotel looks so American, just like the one in the movies. You can’t tell I live in Europe, right? haha

    Cristina | *janded

    • Haha, definitely “classic” American. It’s such a cool place, I wish I could’ve seen it back in the day when they first opened!

  • Ali Mageehon

    Great photos! I grew up in Colorado, but never made it up to Estes Park. I always wanted to go and visit the Stanley – and even more so after reading your post.

    • Thanks, Ali! So funny you say that, I think we all tend to ignore the places closest to home when it comes to travel + exploring. Maybe it’s time to plan another trip back :)

  • This hotel is stunning!! And has a very interesting history…so cool that there is actually an REI basecamp onsite!

    • It really is! We visited during the short window the basecamp was closed, but I definitely want to go back again to experience it!

  • It looks so beautiful! I never would have thought to look to stay there, but it seems like a great getaway!

    • It was fantastic! We enjoyed Denver but our stay at The Stanley and visit to Estes Park was actually what we were most excited for – and it didn’t disappoint!

  • Ah that’s so sweet you do a dad and daughter trip ☺️ The history of this place makes it look like a place you both would enjoy!

    • They’re the best – we had so much fun on this one! I also do an annual mom-daughter trip too :)

  • Melissa Dow

    Beautiful! I bet it’s even more beautiful in person.

    • You’re so right, Melissa! Pictures don’t even begin to do that view justice!

  • What a stunning view from that hotel! Absolutely breathtaking! I love that beautiful old staircase. Glad y’all had a fun trip.
    erin | sandsunandmessybuns.com

    • It was unbelievable! So glad we chose Colorado as our trip destination!

  • What a wonderful place to stay! Merry Christmas :)

    • It was! Can’t wait to get back again in the future!

  • That seems like such an awesome place to visit, i love to see places of historic value and the building itself is beautiful.

    La Belle Sirene

    • It was wonderful! It was nice being tucked away in the mountains too!

  • Girl, you inspire me so much to get out there and travel! My goal for 2017 is to go on more weekend getaways. This place looks so beautiful!

    • Yay, I LOVE to hear that :) What places are on the top of your travel wish list?

  • This looks so gorgeous! And all that food looks delish!

    • It was such a great place to stay! And oh man, the food. I miss it!

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    Oh my word. This looks so pretty! What a fun hotel, it sounds like you had a blast!

    • It’s beautiful! We had so much fun. Definitely want to plan another trip back!

  • Wow! I had never heard of this place before but now I really want to go! I have officially put it on my travel wishlist ;)

    xo Gennifer
    http://www.GenniferRose.com

    • Woohoo! So glad to hear it, Gennifer! It’s definitely a place you don’t want to miss! Hope you can get out there soon :)

  • It’s so beautiful there!! We actually visited in the winter a few years ago. Didn’t stay overnight…just visited as a little detour on a fun trip visiting friends in Denver. Will definitely consider staying next time after this review, though! :)

    • It absolutely is! I’m glad you were able to pop in while you were passing through. I highly recommend doing an overnight next time if you can – you won’t regret it!

  • So cool you have an annual father daughter trip with your Dad! This looks like the sort of place my Dad would enjoy too (not just coz of all that Whiskey haha)

    • I love doing them every year! My mom and I do one as well! And the whiskey was definitely one of the highlights for my dad, haha.

  • My family and I love visiting Estes Park. We’ve never stayed at the Stanley, we usually rent a cabin in the mountains but we always visit the Stanley and have lunch there at least once. Great recap of your trip.

    • Thanks, Joanie! That’s so awesome to hear. We loved Estes Park! Definitely a hidden gem in Colorado!