Nevermind ‘the worst view in the world’. The Walled Off Hotel in itself is a thought-inducing artwork from its provocateur – the elusive street art legend – Banksy.
“Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before Trump made it cool.” – Banksy
The art-laden Walled Off Hotel is nestled along the controversial 400-mile barrier wall separating Israel from Palestinian territories. And as you can tell from its location – it’s not a run-of-the-mill hotel. Rather, it’s a work of art conceived by the most popular street artist of our time.
It’s a ‘vandals resort’ catering for the curious to the die-hard street art fan. Walled Off provides overwhelming views of graffiti-strewn concrete from almost every room. It also stands as a museum, a gallery, and a political protest – all rolled into one.
It’s no Waldorf (where it got its name from btw) but visitors come here for a totally different reason. They come here to see some of the street artist’s most celebrated pieces and experience the dystopian colonial theme.
Banksy motifs can be found all over the hotel – from the infamous rat, to the protester throwing a bunch of flowers, to the faux security cameras, to the Greek statue fending off teargas, among other satirical pieces.
According to hotel manager Wissam Salsa, the philosophy of the hotel is the idea of easing the suffering through art, while reflecting the injustices toward the Palestinian people. Since its conception in 2017, the hotel has brought international attention as it overlooks an Israeli military tower and a checkpoint south of Bethlehem.
Walled Off features customised guest rooms by artists such as Sami Musa from Ramallah, Dominique Petrin from Canada, and of course, Banksy.
For US$60 a night, you can book a ‘budget’ room outfitted with surplus items from an Israeli military barracks. It’s inclusive of a free locker, safe, shared bathroom and complimentary earplugs.
In contrast, however, is a palatial suite on the top floor, fit for a dictator. It’s designed for corrupt heads of state and it includes a plunge bath, library, home cinema, tiki bar, and a bullet-riddled water feature. A night here comes with a complete set of Dead Sea bath materials available upon request.
Walled Off celebrates its first anniversary this month with over 50,000 visitors. It has become one of the trendiest hotspots in Bethlehem, bringing the Palestinian cause to an international platform.
According to the minister of tourism and antiquities Rula Maay’a, what makes the hotel special is that it hosts international politicians, parliamentarians, ambassadors and religious men alike. Furthermore, the hotel has become a major factor in bringing awareness to the Palestinian cause.
Walled Off sells Banksy souvenirs, so if you’re a fan of street art, this is the place to be.