Two Ghostly Hotels

Revised From My Article In “Western Art & Architecture”

The Hotel Boulderado opened on New Year’s Day 1909, in Boulder, Colorado – hence, “Boulderado.” It was a stunning hotel, with all the amenities expected by its wealthy guests.

This five-story, red-brick building still stands as the Grand Empress of Boulder, with a stained-glass ceiling five stories above the lobby and a cantilevered cherrywood staircase. A moose head in the bar. And an original Otis elevator with a cage-like door. Here, your nightstand might be wood from the Old West, with Victorian lamps and pull-strings.

The hotel’s on the National Register of Historic Places. And guests tend to keep returning. Some guests, in fact, apparently loved the hotel so much that they’ve never checked out. And the hotel happily boasts of its ghostly “longtime” residents.

A young elevator operator felt someone tapping on his shoulder – but no one was there when he turned around. Some guests have heard rattling of pots and pans in the kitchen…after the kitchen was closed and locked for the night. There was the housekeeping lady making the beds…and a dim white shadow watching from the corner of the room. There are also said to be a few ghostly guests at the bar, revisiting the spot where they apparently had some good times. People have reported strange voices and shadows. Someone sitting on their bed. And windows opening and closing by themselves.

(An executive at a famous Western hotel once told me, “Let’s face it…any Western hotel a hundred years old or more has ghosts. But you didn’t hear that from me!”)

But I know another reliable source who can prove there are ghosts at The Hotel Boulderado – me!

Once, before going to sleep at the hotel, I dropped my coins on the nightstand (when I travel, I can easily have 15-20 coins in my pocket). Since this nightstand was a wooden Western one with a glass top, the coins rolled wildly all over the glass. When they stopped, I went right to sleep.

When I woke up seven hours later, the coins were in a neatly-stacked vertical pile, with the larger coins below and the smaller ones on top.

I hadn’t heard a sound all night, nor had I woken up. But somebody put those coins into a neat vertical pile…and it wasn’t me!

I was lucky enough to get a neat-freak. And an unbelievable-but-true story.

And the Boulderado makes no secret of the fact that it welcomes these non-paying guests.

“From the mining years to the Roaring Twenties to the present,” a former hotel executive once told me, “Hotel Boulderado’s been taking care of guests – and ghosts – in a style combining Old World elegance and Old West authenticity.”

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The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is another place to which people return again and again. Even when they’re dead.

Most hotels wouldn’t want to publicize the fact that they’re haunted by guests who’ve never checked out. But The Stanley revels in it. The hotel offers a variety of ghost tours, and the gift shop is filled with items related to ghosts and the Jack Nicholson film “The Shining,” which Stephen King was inspired to write after staying here.

This 160-room hotel was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile. Stanley suffered from tuberculosis, and his doctor suggested that he and his wife Flora move to Colorado. They fell in love with the area – and Stanley’s health improved. So they decided to build a grand hotel, which opened in July, 1909.

The Stanleys are still here, too, according to staff…no doubt to ensure that beds are crisply made and maid service is up to par. Elizabeth Wilson, a staff member injured in a gas leak in 1911, is said to “hang around” so she can care for current guests. Nearly every room has been reported to house spirits. Guests have experienced items moving from place to place and lights turning on and off. And some have heard children running up and down the halls in the middle of the night…who weren’t there when they opened the door.

When you lay your head down to sleep at The Stanley, rest comfortably in the knowledge that you’re sleeping in architectural grandeur amidst a stunning alpine setting. But you may want to sleep with one eye open!