International superstar artist Banksy has created a hotel, brilliantly titled the Walled Off Hotel, on the West Bank barrier in the Israeli-military controlled part of Bethlehem. The famously anonymous artist and political commentator has once again subverted the norm and made a move no one expected, with a hotel on one of the most controversial pieces of land in the world. Expectedly irreverent, this newly opened unique property functions as a gallery, museum, political statement and of course as a place to stay.
Interiors as art take on a whole new meaning at the Walled Off, where guests can sleep beneath a so-called Banksy in almost every room. A former pottery factory, the Walled Off hotel features customised guest rooms by Banksy, Sami Musa and Dominique Petrin, reportedly with more to follow. With floor to ceiling views of the graffiti-strewn concrete wall from almost every room, it has already been described as the hotel with ‘the world’s worst view’. Each of the scenic rooms are en-suite and equipped with Wi-Fi, fridge, radio, personal safe and air conditioning.
Prices for a stay start from just $30 a night, which gets you a spot in the Budget room, outfitted with surplus items from an Israeli military barracks, it includes locker, personal safe, shared bathroom, and complimentary earplugs. For those looking for more home comforts the Palatial Suite features a plunge bath able to accommodate up to four revellers, original artwork, library, home cinema, roof garden, tiki bar and a water feature made from a bullet riddled water tank. Sleeping up to six people it comes complete with a set of Dead Sea bath minerals and an in-room dining service available upon request.
The Piano Bar is themed as a colonial outpost from 1917, referencing Britain’s role in the area during the colonial period. With ceiling fans, leather bound couches and a collection of Banksy artworks that include vandalised oil paintings and statues choking on tear gas fumes. Warm scones and freshly brewed tea are served daily on fine bone china and a Walled Off Salad is also available.
There is also a gallery for guests and visitors to enjoy, filled with a permanent collection of many notable Palestinian artists form the past 20 years, including Sliman Mansour with his iconic “And the Convoy Keeps Going”. Curated by the venerated historian and critic Dr. Housni Alkhateeb Shehada, the gallery also features temporary shows in an adjoining space which is dedicated to temporary shows by upcoming artists.
Another star attraction of the Walled Off is the home-made Museum, dedicated solely to the biography of the wall. It contains state-of-the-art audio visual presentations, an animated history of the region, military pornography and an original beach sculpture from Gaza. The cinema plays excerpts from the mighty Oscar nominated ‘Five Broken Cameras’ – and one of those very same bullet-damaged cameras is on display. Curated in association with Dr Gavin Grindon from Essex University the museum will be an ongoing repository for local stories, artefacts and testimonies.
Walled Off highlights also include a Book Shop, stocked with every title about the wall ever published and a very special remote controlled piano. Programmed with a bespoke score of contemporary arrangements, the baby grand also plays back a concert recorded exclusively for the hotel every night.
The famously anonymous artist paid for all the installation costs of the hotel and has now handed it over as an independent local business, meaning he will make no profit from the Walled Off. The aim of this incredibly unique hotel is to put any profit back into local projects.
The Walled Off website explains for those worried about safety in the notorious location, ‘The hotel is located in a bustling area fully open to tourists from across the world. It has all the restaurants, bars and taxis you’d expect. We’re 500 metres from the checkpoint to Jerusalem and a mile from the centre of Bethlehem. The official British Foreign Office advice declares it a safe place to visit.”
Find out more at the Walled Off website, and book now to experience a very unique stay.