The world's spookiest spots for horror-hunting holidays
From haunted hotels to abandoned psychiatric hospitals, those who like their vacays with a dose of fright should add these locations to their bucket lists
Some folks love nothing better than a good scare.
Telling ghost stories round the campfire, watching horror films late at night. in a way, the tension and sheer escapism they offer can help some people unwind - or at least to momentarily forget their own, much more mundane stress.
The more macabre tourist could even maximise that effect with a horror-hunting holiday. Here are the locations of nine of the world's (worst?) best ghost stories.1) The Stanley Hotel , Colorado
A night in room 217 apparently scared Stephen King out of a bout of writer's block and ended in The Shining. But before you run screaming for the hills, the hotel also claims its many ghosts are harmless - and that quite a few of them are simply former employees getting a kick out of moving people's suitcases, turning the lights on and off, and tickling the ivories. It even employs a paranormal investigator to lead ghost hunts.
2) The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel , Calgary, Alberta
One of Canada's great railway hotels, it has been associated with the paranormal since its construction in 1888. One notable ghost is a bride-to-be who set herself - and her wedding dress - on fire as she descended the candlelit stairs.
The Ghost Bride can supposedly still be found in the hotel's ballroom, eternally waiting for her first dance.3) Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh has been called the "most haunted city in the world" and this historic fortress, which dominates the city's skyline, has dungeons said to be occupied by the ghosts of many a prisoner. One grim tale is about a piper who was sent to explore the castle's tunnels, playing as he went so those above ground could trace him.
Suddenly the music stopped and he was never seen again. Visitors still report hearing music echoing through the fort's empty chambers.
4) Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England
Completed in 1637, Raynham Hall is home to one of the most famous hauntings in Britain, thanks to a photograph in Country Life magazine in 1936.
The photo shows a ghostly apparition on the stairs, said to be the spirit of the adulterous Lady Dorothy Walpole, who was locked up there either by her husband or her lover's wife. For years before, however, there were sightings of a woman in a brown dress.
The first, in 1835, described "an aristocratic lady with one horrific feature: where her eyes should have been there were only empty sockets".5) Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
After rifle magnate William Wirt Winchester died in 1881, his widow Sarah feared the vengeful spirits of all the people who'd been killed by his guns, so she commissioned a Victorian labyrinth to confuse them.
The sprawling result is a four-storey mansion with 160 rooms and several curious elements, including dead-end staircases and windows that open onto secret passages.
6) Poveglia Island, Venice, Italy
A short gondola ride from Venice, Poveglia was once a quarantine zone for victims of the bubonic plague.
From 1922, it was the site of a psychiatric hospital whose patients were reportedly subjected to brutal experiments - until the doctor responsible flung himself from the bell tower. Today, the island is uninhabited and visitors are strictly forbidden.7) Bhangarh Fort, India
This 17th-century fort in Rajasthan is said to be "the most haunted place in India". Its legend concerns a sorcerer, who put a curse on the fort after his advances were rebuffed by its beautiful princess.
The Mughals sacked the city soon after and any attempt to build in the vicinity since has met with disaster.
8) Chateau de Brissac, France
This is where Charlotte of France, the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII, was murdered by her husband in 1584 after he found her in the arms of a huntsman.
The Green Lady, named for the colour of the dress in which she died, is said to haunt the tower.
9) St Augustine Lighthouse, Florida
Built in 1824, Florida's first lighthouse is said to host a range of ghosts, including an owner who was forced to sell to the government but swore he would never leave.
Visitors report the whiff of cigar smoke and footsteps on the stairs, sometimes attributed to a keeper, who fell to his death while painting in the 1850s; and the ghosts of two girls who drowned as their dad worked on the light.