Never one to do things in a small way, street artist Banksy is preparing to open The Walled Off Hotel, a property located in Palestine about a third of a mile from the Israel-manned Jerusalem checkpoint and a mile from the center of Bethlehem.
Described as possessing “the worst views in the world,” all the hotel’s windows face an Israeli-built barrier wall that separates Israel from Palestine. Highly controversial, the wall has been condemned by the United Nations General Assembly in part because it illegally extends into Palestinian territory.
A secret project, the hotel has been under construction for 14 months and was unknown even to local officials. The interior was styled to look like an English gentlemen’s club from colonial times, a period reflective of the signing of the Balfour Declaration, a 100-year-old British document that established plans for the creation of a Jewish homeland.
“Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before [Donald] Trump made it cool,” said Banksy in a in interview with Channel 4 News, which visited the property at its press opening on Friday. The anonymous artist added, “It felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.”
Banksy’s presence in Bethlehem is not new. He’s visited the city multiple times over the past decade and the work he created there (including multiple stencils on the dividing wall) has helped drive tourist visits to the beleaguered city.
In a section of the hotel’s site dedicated to providing more info on the space, the very first question asks whether the hotel is a joke. According to the site, “It’s a genuine art hotel with fully functioning en suite facilities and limited car parking. Operated by the local community, we offer a warm welcome to everyone from all sides of the conflict and across the world.”
As to any safety concerns, the hotel assures the area is a bustling one fully open to all tourists and boasts restaurants, bars and taxis. The site also makes sly political commentary while also providing advice for people traveling to the hotel. “Visitors entering via Tel Aviv airport are given an entry card in their passport. So, unlike the locals, you’ll be permitted to travel wherever you wish. Airport security at Tel Aviv, however, is legendary. Expect to be asked about the purpose of your stay and if you intend travelling to the West Bank. If you answer ‘yes’ you may be held up for some time, consequently many visitors choose not to highlight that particular part of their holiday,” reads the site.
And though the hotel is filled with works of multi-million dollar works of art, it offers rooms at a rang of price ranges, starting at $30/night for shared rooms with bunk beds, as well as a single presidential suite that accommodates six. There is also an art gallery, which displays the work of Palestinian artists.
Banksy will begin taking reservations on March 11th. Visit the hotel’s site for more info.
Check out images from the hotel plus a video tour below.
Do I need a VISA?