Looking like the hotel where Jack Nicholson’s character lost his mind isn’t enough to scare Amanda Woods off a night at Timberline Lodge.
Instead, it’s part of the reason she’s there.
As my car winds its way up Oregon’s tallest mountain, I’m torn between admiring the dramatic views around me and seeing the opening sequence to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining in my mind.
Knowing I’m about to spend the night in the scary, lonely looking hotel that stars in the opening of the cult classic film is giving me butterflies, and when Timberline Lodge looms into view for the first time I catch my breath before letting out a slow ‘woah’.
If the hotel had been closing for the winter as it was in the film I have a feeling I’d have turned straight around, but since this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oregon with around two million visitors a year, instead I have to focus on finding an empty car space.
While the exterior of Timberline Lodge is unmistakeable to fans of The Shining, it turns out the interior is vastly different and actually more interesting than it is in the film.
Timberline Lodge was built during the Great Depression as part of an economic programme to create jobs, and is filled with wood carvings by local artisans and other unique rustic touches. There’s an 362-tonne stone chimney in the centre of the main house, feature windows that look out at the snowy peak of Mt Hood that remains white even in the height of summer, and a small museum to share the National Historic Landmark’s history including its dedication in 1937 by President Franklin D Roosevelt.
At check-in guests are likely to be greeted by Bruno or Heidi, the hotel’s friendly St Bernards, and while there are lots of room styles to choose from one thing guests can’t do is stay in 237.
When Stephen King wrote The Shining he included room 217 as a nod to his room at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado where he’d checked in with writer’s block only to have such vivid nightmares that he woke up with the plot to his next thriller. When Kubrick came to film at Timberline Lodge they requested that the room be changed to 237, which doesn’t exist in the hotel, because they were worried people would avoid 217.
Thanks to some fans of the book as well as the movie, ironically 217 still became the most requested room at Timberline Lodge.
As the hotel can get fully booked out, those who miss the chance to spend the night should still make their way 1828 metres up above sea level to see the hotel with their own eyes, take in the views and dine at one of the hotel’s restaurants.
The Ram’s Head Bar & Restaurant offers family friendly food and drink including beers from a glacier-fed microbrewery, while the Cascade Dining Room specialises in local fresh organic produce and has a reputation for curating the finest wines in the Pacific Northwest.
But what about things that go bump in the night?
While there have been no reports of spooky twins in the hallways, there are rumours that Timberline Lodge’s First Aid Room is haunted by the ghosts of climbers and skiers who never made it off the mountain.
Having stayed locked in my room throughout the night I can neither confirm nor deny such rumours. But I can say Mt Hood is a beautiful place to wake up to in the morning, even if you do open one eye first.
Breakout Box: Staying There
There are 15 styles of room at Timberline Lodge including bunk bed rooms accommodating anywhere from two to 10 people, and twin, queen and king room options. Prices start at $265USD.
Breakout Box: While you’re in the Mt Hood
Only around an hour and a half’s drive from Portland and one of Oregon’s seven natural wonders, Mt Hood is the state’s highest peak at 3,429 metres and has 12 glaciers around the summit. Visitors can get the blood pumping by hiking, kayaking, and whitewater rafting, discover Oregon’s pioneering history at historical sites and museums or follow farm trails to farmers’ markets and wineries.
Visit Oregon’s Mt Hood Territory for more.