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There must be something special about hotels that makes people’s imagination inhabit them with ghosts, poltergeists, and other supernatural beings. We can find countless stories dedicated to this subject not only in literature and cinema, but in real life as well—a lot of hotel keepers all over the world use ghost stories as a bait for trusting tourists. There is indeed something spooky about living in a room in which, as a tourist booklet states, there was a murder, or it is contended that the hotel is as eerie to stay at as the hotel in the book “The Shining.”

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Speaking of Stephen King’s literature legacy, there is a hotel in Colorado that served the writer as a direct prototype for his story of the Torrance family. It is called the Stanley Hotel, and was built by F. O. Stanley, the inventor of Stanley Steamer automobiles in 1907, and the hotel opened in 1909. The ghost problem started only two years later when the hotel’s housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson suffered from electrocution during a strong thunderstorm. Surprisingly, she did not die from it, but since that event, the hotel—in particular, room 217—became the center of paranormal activity. Visitors and staff reported mysterious figures appearing and disappearing in the hotel’s rooms and corridors, packages and bags being found unpacked, lights turning on and off on their own, and so on. Many people heard children’s laughter on the stairs, including Stephen King himself—in 1973, him and his wife stayed in the Stanley Hotel for a night, and it was enough for the writer to gather enough inspirational material to write a huge novel, “The Shining.” Apart from childish giggling, King reported to have witnessed some kind of ghostly event in the hotel’s ballroom, and the references to this may be found in both the novel and Stanley Kubrick’s adaption. Although all this may sound rather scary, there have never been cases of sinister or tragic events connected to ghosts in the Stanley Hotel, so perhaps this is why these events are cherished (Mapquest Travel).

There are, however, hotels with much more tragic and eerie stories in their past. The Bokor Palace hotel and casino in Cambodia, for instance, witnessed perhaps too much tragedy and violence to have remained an hospitable place. To cut the long story short, during the period of Khmer Rouge’s reign, Bokor Palace served as a place in which hundreds (or even thousands) of people had been executed; before this, it was used as a base during the Vietnamese invasion in Cambodia in the 1940s. The unique, heavy atmosphere surrounding the place inspired several horror movies, including Matt Dillon’s “City of Ghosts” and a Korean film “R-Point.” Local people say that Bokor Palace is haunted by a large number of spirits, and if you walk past it, you will be able to hear dead people walking in its walls (

There are hotels known for unsolved murders that occurred inside their walls; sometimes, such murder cases resulted in the hotel being haunted years later. However, there are also cases when it is unclear whether someone’s death preceded paranormal possession, or resulted from it. Such is the case of Claypool Hotel, Indiana; in 1943, Corporal Maoma Ridings checked into the Hotel, intending to spend a couple of days at Camp Atterbury. However, several days later, she was found in her room dead, half-naked, and mutilated. One of the staff members recalled that when he once delivered ice to Corporal Ridings’ room, from behind the door, he noticed a silhouette of a woman sitting on the bed; the woman was dressed in black from head to toe, and was not noticed to have had entered or exited the room. Needless to say, this woman was never identified; it is unclear whether it was a ghost or not, and the murder of Maoma Ridings remains unsolved even today (The Ghost Diaries).

Modern folklore continues to inhabit hotels with ghosts, evil spirits, and poltergeists. Sometimes it is done for entertainment, often to attract customers craving thrilling experiences, or wishing to somehow diversify their rest. However, there are hotels whose ghost stories are not far-fetched, and have been inspired by gruesome or strange events. Such is the story of Bokor Palace Hotel, whose walls witnessed mass killings during the reign of Khmer Rouge; such is the story of Claypool Hotel, in which there occurred one of the most mysterious murders in the United States of the 20th century, and which could have possibly been committed by a supernatural entity. Such is, to some extent, the story of Stanley Hotel—and even though nobody died there, there were certain unpleasant events preceding the surge of paranormal activity in its walls. There are undoubtedly many more hotels inhabited by ghosts; abandoned or still in use, they await new visitors to scare them to death.

Works Cited

“The Real Story of the Terrifying Stanley Hotel that Inspired ‘The Shining.’” MapQuest Travel,

“10 Terrifyingly Creepy Abandoned Hotels.” Listverse, 23 Feb. 2017,

“5 Haunted Hotels With Horrifying Unsolved Murders.” The Ghost Diaries,

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