In stark contrast to yesterday’s hotel post, Banksy has opened a hotel of his own in Palestine and no, it’s not a joke. Walled Off is a legit art hotel complete with fully functioning ensuite facilities; artist-decorated rooms, a palatial presidential suite, scary budget rooms that look like barracks, an independently operated gallery and a museum. Operated by the local community, its meant to offer a warm welcome to everyone from all sides of the conflict and across the world.
Walled Off: Banksy’s New Art Hotel
Please note: we know the original photos for this post were purposely photographed to be dark and bleak, but we have gone back in and replaced most with lighter, clearer versions for you to see. Our apologies to Banksy.
The hotel is literally “Walled Off” by a 30 foot tall wall of concrete, which is also the view from each of the guest rooms.
The Walled Off Hotel is an entirely independent leisure facility set up and financed by Banksy. Construction began 14 months ago and most of the hotel’s artwork was created by the famous, anonymous artist. Two of the rooms were given to artists Sami Musa and Dominique Petrin to decorate. More rooms by specific artists are expected to follow.
It’s not aligned to any political movement or pressure group. Safe to visit, the hotel sits in Area C, a portion of the West Bank under Israeli control. That means both Israelis and Palestinians are allowed to visit. The aim is to tell the story of the wall from every side and give visitors the opportunity to discover it for themselves. They offer an especially warm welcome to young Israelis and absolutely no fanaticism is permitted on the premises.
In case you were wondering, Banksy will not see a penny from this venture. The artist paid for the installation costs and has now handed it over as an independent local business. The aim is to break even and put any profits back into local projects.
If you stay at the Walled Off you could find yourself literally sleeping inside a work of art. So far Banksy, Sami Musa and Dominique Petrin have customized guest rooms, with more will follow.
The hotel boasts floor to ceiling views of graffiti-strewn concrete from almost every room. And for the exhibitionists amongst you – many are within range of the army watchtower. All scenic rooms are ensuite and equipped with wifi, fridge, radio, personal safe and air conditioning.
Outfitted with surplus items from an Israeli military barracks, this room offers a bed from $30 a night. No frills, includes locker, personal safe, shared bathroom, complimentary earplugs.
THE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE
This palatial suite is equipped with everything a corrupt head of state would need – 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.
Comes with a complete set of Dead Sea bath minerals and an in-room dining service available upon request. Sleeps up to six.
Britain got its hands on Palestine in 1917 and the piano bar is themed as a colonial outpost from those heady days. It is equipped with languid ceiling fans, leather bound couches and an air of undeserved authority.
Guests can peruse 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 the Walled Off Salad should not be missed.
OTHER ARTWORKS IN THE HOTEL:
This space enjoys complete autonomy from the rest of the hotel and is curated by the venerated historian and critic Dr. Housni Alkhateeb Shehada. He has assembled a permanent collection of real heft and significance. Many of the most notable Palestinian artists from the past 20 years are here – including Sliman Mansour with his iconic “And the Convoy Keeps Going”. An adjoining space is dedicated to temporary shows by upcoming artists. The gallery sells original work, prints and postcards.
This home-made attraction is dedicated solely to the biography of the wall. The exhibition is dedicated to enlightening visitors about the separation barrier and providing context, while being painstakingly careful not to pick a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that surrounds the hotel. It contains state-of-the-art audio visual presentations and a very old tree. Other highlights includes an animated history of the region, military pornography and 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 contains almost fully fact-checked material and will be an ongoing repository for local stories, artefacts and testimonies.
A bookshop stocked with every title about the wall ever published. Residents can borrow selected items for a small deposit.
And through it all the piano plays – by itself. Their remote controlled mechanical baby grand has been programmed with a bespoke score of contemporary arrangements, plus every night it will play back a concert recorded exclusively for the hotel. We start our residency programme with 3D who presents the greatest hits of Massive Attack played with three hands. Concerts start every night from 9pm. Upcoming artists include Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Flea and Hans Zimmer.
The following prices are all subject to change:
The Walled Off Hotel
182 Caritas Street, Bethlehem, Palestine