"The Shining" Hotel Location
Inside The Shining Hotel
If you have ever read the Stephen King book "The Shining" or watched Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation, you will know that it is a particularly disturbing story. Whether you view it as a good old fashioned ghost story or a tense study of one man's psychological disintegration, it is frighteningly good.
The story revolves around the Torrance family and their stay at the Overlook Hotel. The family are alone in the Hotel, Jack Torrance having taken a job as winter caretaker during the off season. Jack has a drink problem whilst his young son Danny has a psychic ability ("the shining"). They both fall under the spell of the villain of the story; the Hotel.
The Overlook Hotel is the brooding presence pervading every scene of the story. It is the Hotel that wants to absorb Danny's ability and does its best to possess him by driving Jack mad in order to use him to kill his son. The Hotel's isolation is in itself foreboding, but the apparently sentient building gradually cranks up the pressure by conjuring an ever increasing quantity of ghosts and terrifying visions, from scary ghost twins to torrents of blood, until Jack cracks and pursues his wife and child in a murderous rampage.
Sadly, the Overlook Hotel doesn't actually exist; it is instead an amalgam of several different places. Here are the locations that make up "The Shining" Hotel.
The Inspiration for the Shining: The Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Stephen King was inspired to write "The Shining" following a short visit to The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. King and his wife drove to the Hotel without making a reservation and were nearly turned away; the Hotel was closing for the season the next day and the Kings were the only two guests. The couple dined alone in a vast dining room listening to a taped orchestra and made their way back to Room 217 along long dark corridors. King was unable to sleep and found his way to the bar where he was entertained by the bartender, Grady. By the next morning, King had his story.
King is by no means the first celebrity to stay at the Stanley Hotel. The neo-Georgian hotel opened in 1909 and has played host to a string of rich and famous guests, including Theodore Roosevelt, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Cary Grant and Bob Dylan. Both the building and the surrounding land are listed on the US Register of Historic Places.
It should come as no surprise that the Stanley Hotel is reputedly haunted. Many guests have reported ghosts in their rooms and hotel employees have heard the sounds of a party and a piano playing in the ballroom, though it is found to be empty on investigation. Should you wish to check in, try Room 418, it's said to be the most haunted. If you do stay, don't forget to tune your television into Channel 42 - "The Shining" is shown on a continuous loop!
The management of the Stanley Hotel isn't shy of the connection to Stephen King or of the reputed hauntings. Indeed, they now run tours of the hotel for those interested in these aspects of the hotel.
Where to Find the Stanley Hotel
The Timberline Hotel, Used for Exterior Shots
The Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Oregon
Whilst the cast and first crew stayed in England to shoot the film, Kubrick dispatched a second unit to Oregon to get some outside shots. If you visit The Timberline Lodge you will be disappointed to find that in reality there is no maze. Although a famous scene takes place outside the Overlook Hotel in a hedge maze, it doesn't actually exist. The management of the Lodge also made their own change to the story. In the book, the most sinister room at the Overlook Hotel is Room 217. As there is a Room 217 at the Timberline Lodge, they asked that the number be changed so that people didn't avoid the room. In Kubrick's film it is Room 237 that the family are told to avoid.
The Timberline Lodge was built in the 1930s as a government sponsored project during the Depression. "The Shining" isn't the only film to have featured the Lodge. "Jingle Bells", "Bend of the River", "All the Young Men" and "Lost Horizon" have all used it as a location. In 1981 director Boris Sagal was killed at the hotel when he strayed under the blades of a helicopter landing in the parking lot.
The Timberline Lodge doesn't trade on its connection to "The Shining". It has a fine reputation as a ski lodge, and is set in an area of outstanding natural scenery. Like the Stanley Hotel, the Timberline is listed on the US Register of Historic Places and it's a US National Historic Landmark.
The Timberline Hotel's Location
The Ahwahnee Hotel's Great Lounge
The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park, California
The Ahwahnee Hotel was built to take advantage of its natural surroundings. It is positioned near the Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point. Stanley Kubrick wasn't interested in its exterior though, he was inspired by its interior. In particular he was impressed by the Hotel's Great Lounge, although he made some modifications on his set. The Hotel also has some very distinctive red and black framed elevator doors. These were reproduced in the film.
The Hotel opened in 1927 and was designed to sit harmoniously in its stunning surroundings. Since it opened it has been steadily modernised and is now a popular tourist destination.
The Overlook Hotel was Actually at Elstree Studios
The Overlook Hotel, EMI Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire, UK
The cast of "The Shining" didn't actually visit any of the hotels mentioned above during filming. Stanley Kubrick had an enormous set built at Elstree Studios which included the whole exterior of the Overlook Hotel. At the time, this set was the largest ever built. So, sadly, the Overlook Hotel no longer exists, other than on paper or film. Whilst you can't tour the studios at Elstree, you can book in for parties or events at various venues around the site.
The Overlook Hotel in Misery
The Overlook Hotel doesn't just appear in "The Shining". King's novel "Misery" also has a brief mention of The Overlook Hotel, and the fate of Jack Torrance. Annie Wilkes, the deranged nurse who takes writer Paul Sheldon hostage, makes reference to the hotel. She says that the hotel is now ruined and that a man (not mentioned by name, but referring to Torrance) went mad there. Wilkes says that these events happened ten years before.
"The Shining" Movie Trivia
Jack Nicholson played Jack Torrance, but other actors considered for the part included:
- Harrison Ford
- Robert De Niro
- Jon Voigt
- Robin Williams
Shelley Duvall and Stanley Kubrick didn't get on. The stress caused Ms Duvall to lose her hair during filming.
Duvall and Kubrick were both nominated for "Razzies" for Worst Actress and Worst Director.