In the middle of the Rocky Mountains it may seem like you couldn’t be farther away from London, Frankenstein’s Castle, or Nazi Germany. But at the Seven Keys Lodge (formerly known as the Baldpate Inn) in Estes Park, Colorado, all three of these places are represented—in the form of keys.
The small bed and breakfast is home to the world’s largest collection of keys. With a total of more than 20,000 keys, there are three keys for every resident of Estes Park. Organized categorically by state, the collection is hung on the hotel’s ceiling and walls and has been receiving donations since the end of World War II.
Featured in the key room are keys to a variety of European hotspots, including Westminster Abbey, Mozart’s wine cellar, Frankenstein’s Castle, and Adolf Hitler’s bunker. There is an extensive U.S. collection as well, with keys from the Pentagon and the White House bathroom, and the international collection includes a key to a Peruvian monastery and a key made in Egypt.
If you look closer, keys from even more precarious circumstances can be found. There are keys to robbed banks, the dressing rooms of Hollywood actors, and yes, a piano key. Most of the keys in the collection have been donated by guests who stayed at the inn, spanning a wide variety of states and countries. If you visit, you can make a donation too!
The Baldpate Inn was established in 1917 by brothers Charles and Gordon Mace. The hotel’s name and the idea for a key collection came from Seven Keys to Baldpate, a mystery novel written in 1913 about a man who visits the then-fictional Baldpate Inn to find some peace and seclusion. Unbeknownst to this man, six other characters also have a key, and they promptly open to door to the inn and distract him.
Due to the similarity of the Estes Park lodge to the inn described in the story, the owners decided to name the hotel after the fictional inn in the novel. Subsequently, the key room was created to honor the importance of keys in the book, a literary tribute that has been transformed into a world record. Earl Derr Biggers, the author of Seven Keys to Baldpate, eventually accepted the Colorado establishment as the “true” Baldpate Inn.
In December 2020, the Baldpate Inn came under new ownership. Mark and Meredith Powell have taken over the Estes Park landmark, and are working to restore the 100-year-old inn. The key collection remains, though the name of the hotel has changed to the Seven Keys Lodge.