Haunted hotels: The world's 10 scariest places to stay

When you check in to these hotels, keep an eye out for guests who never checked out …

The Stanley Hotel, Colorado

The Stanley, in Estes Park near the Rocky Mountain National Park, is on the US National Register of Historic Places, but its most famous guest gave it a different reputation. In 1974, novelist Stephen King stayed the night. The eerie emptiness and long corridors inspired The Shining, and room 217 – which features heavily in the book – is apparently the Stanley's most requested room.

Don't expect the hotel from the film, though – the exteriors for that were shot at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. See Stanleyhotel.com

Dalhousie Castle, Scotland

Near Edinburgh on the River Esk, Dalhousie Castle has its own dungeons, so it can hardly complain about people thinking it's a bit scary. The resident ghost is thought to be Lady Catherine Dalhousie, the mistress of the castle's owner. She was supposedly imprisoned and starved to death. Guests have reported seeing her on the stairs and in the main corridor. See dalhousiecastle.co.uk

Castello della Castelluccia, Italy

It's the sort of place you come to for romance – it's a thoroughly charming Roman villa just outside the city. But there's a good chance of a fright, too. Among the spooks said to infest the Castello della Castelluccia are a 17th century alchemist who was struck by lightning, horses sold off by a noble to pay gambling debts, and – somewhat more unlikely – notoriously mad Roman emperor Nero. See hotelcastellucciarome.com

The Russell Hotel, Sydney

A maze of old buildings, some of which have late 18th century origins, the Russell is one of the best value hotels in the Rocks. But that past has led to plenty of stories, including the spooky tale of Room 8, which is supposedly haunted by a murdered sailor. Previous guests have reported waking up to see the ghost of the sailor staring at them. See therussell.com.au

Ettington Park Hotel, England

A Victorian mansion that regularly hosts ghost-hunting programmes and was featured in horror film  The Haunting, the Ettington Park Hotel is thought to harbour several ghosts. The property, just outside Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, is reputed to be plagued by the phantoms of monks and former servants. See handpickedhotels.co.uk/ettingtonpark

Toftaholm Herrdard, Sweden

This centuries-old manor house in the south of the country has been converted into a charming country hotel, but there's one guest who never checks out. The story goes that a boy was in love with the daughter of the baron who owned the property, but the baron forced her to marry someone else. And the boy killed himself on the wedding day. Strange noises, and doors opening and closing by themselves have been mentioned by spooked-out customers. See toftaholm.se

Chateau de Brissac, France

Dating back to the 11th century in the heart of the Loire Valley, Chateau de Brissac is a marvellously posh pile, but its undoubted character also includes a perhaps unwanted visitor. Again, there's a tragic tale of forbidden love, with the owner killing his wife Charlotte after finding her with a young lover. Charlotte is now the Green Lady, who wanders the corridors in a green gown, moaning and attempting to remove the sword from her chest. chateau-brissac.fr

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The Shelbourne, Dublin

Dublin's classic five star got in on the haunted hotel act when actress Lily Collins told of her ghostly encounters there. The sixth floor is reportedly home to Mary Masters, a girl who died in an 1846 cholera outbreak in the buildings that once stood on the site of the Shelbourne. Staff have previously told stories of Mary being sighted in the basement. See Marriott.com

Waitomo Caves Hotel, New Zealand

Built on the site of a former British fort, this hotel near the glowworm-lit Waitomo Caves has an absolute cornucopia of suspected spectres. These include a child, a Maori man, a Maori princess who was shot trying to visit a soldier at the fort and a woman clad in distinctly Victorian clothes. See Waitomocaveshotel.co.nz

HI Ottawa Jail, Canada

As the name might suggest, the HI Ottawa Jail was a maximum security prison for a century, and was the notorious site of public executions. If you're one to believe in such things, it seems that many of those who got the death sentence are still roaming around, decidedly disgruntled about it. One hanged inmate is reputed to wander the halls of what is now a fairly quirky hostel. See hihostels.ca

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