Dark Concrete: Some Places I’ll Never Sleep Alone

During my recent Colorado romp, I explored some well-spooky Hotels: The Stanley Hotel and The Brown Palace. The former spooks because Stephen King had a nightmare there. The latter spooks because its architect, Frank E. Edbrooke, hid Knights Templar codes all over its décor and within its architectural structure. It’s also haunted.

Here’s why both buildings are dark af……

Part 1: The Stanley Hotel.

In 1974 Stephen King and his wife checked in for the night at The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park. It was the hotel’s last booking before closing for the winter, and they were the only guests. During the night, Stephen King dreamt of fire hoses, his screaming three-year-old son and corridors. Not surprisingly, he woke in a sweat and reached for a cigarette. “By the time the cigarette was done” Stephen King had the bones of a book set in his head.

The next day, on his way back to Denver, he visited the Hot dog kiosk; ‘Mustards Last Stand’. Or at least its current staff told me he did. (I was a regular). Freaked out and babbling about a nightmare he’d had, he calmed himself with a couple of delicious Hot dogs. Totally believable; there’s not much a Hot dog can’t fix. Stephen knew.

Once pacified, Mr King went home and wrote his book: The Shining.

Come to the filming of the story, The Stanley Hotel disassociated itself from the whole thing. When director Stanley Kubrick’s location team came knocking, they refused to be involved fearing its association would be bad for business. Who’d want to stay in a hotel portrayed as being so cut-off and isolated that it might induce cabin fever and spiralling mental degradation? Not to mention twin girls and kids on tricycles lurking at every corner. Despite being the inspiration for the story, the film version was mostly shot in England, with the exterior being the Timberland Lodge at Hood River.

Cut to 2018, and The Stanley Hotel has more than relaxed its nerves. It’s now happy to put its hand up and identify itself as the inspiration for the ‘Overlook Hotel’ from The Shining story. It posthumously added a hedge-maze right outside the front door too. It’s a bit tokenistic, though; the hedge is tiny and low and will never conceal its exit, let alone an axe-wielding murderer.

Despite not being the actual film location, the place was still PACKED with Shining tourists when I visited. The parking costs a small fortune – $10 -but you do get a big commemorative The Stanley Hotel gold coin as a souvenir, which is a nice touch.

I bet they are grateful their reservation book is always full, but I wonder how thoroughly sick to death they are of guests checking in with the greeting, ‘Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny’…

The Stanley Hotel: 333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517

Mustard’s Last Stand: 2081 S University Blvd. Denver, CO 80210

Next up, Part 2: The Brown Palace…..


2020 FOOTNOTE: since posting this story, some research lead me to discover that Mustard’s Last Stand didn’t even exist in 1974, let alone get visited by Stephen King for his comforting hot dog. It’s *just another folklore, passed down through the ages in the way that these glorious tales often are.

Not being one to let the truth get in the way of a good story, I’ve decided not to re-edit this piece in favour of keeping an urban myth alive.

I’m always ready to peddle and perpetuate a good myth, and you’re most welcome.

See? Well spooky.
Only a genius names a Hot Dog stand Mustard’s Last Stand

Professional work: Ideas Make Manifestos