Under an army watchtower and across the street from the concrete wall Israel has built in parts of the occupied West Bank, street artist Banksy has opened a guesthouse in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. In the revered birth town of Jesus, the Walled Off hotel stands three storeys high. Its bedroom walls and hallways are decorated with the mysterious artist's stencil graffiti work --one shows an Israeli soldier and masked Palestinian youth having a pillow fight, and a statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy stands at the entrance, clothes falling out of the suitcase he holds. The hotel, converted from a pottery workshop, has been styled to resemble "an English gentlemen's club from colonial times", a statement from the artist said, in acknowledgement of the historical role Britain played in the Middle East. But the decor has been spiced up with statues choking on tear gas, cherubs hanging from the ceiling, their faces covered by oxygen masks and oil paintings of refugee life jackets washed ashore. The hotel was set up in secrecy over the last 14 months - Israeli military authorities in the West Bank did not immediately respond when asked if they had been aware in advance. REUTERS/Ammar Awad #reutersphotos #reuters #bethlehem #westbank #banksy #hotel #art
Anonymous British graffiti artist Banksy has taken a break from his usual work of spray-painting walls to try something totally different: opening a hotel.
The Walled Off Hotel, as it's called, isn't your typical guest house, though--in fact, some say it has the worst view in the world. Located in Bethlehem, Palestine, The Walled Off Hotel overlooks the wall that divides Palestine from Israel, and restricts movement between the two.
Covered in graffiti on both sides, the wall is clearly an inspiration for the hotel, which in addition to guest rooms, boasts an art gallery and a museum. The purpose of these facilities is to provide historical context, as the museum "contains state-of-the-art audio visual presentations and a very old tree," according to the website. "Other highlights include an animated history of the region, military pornography and original beach sculpture from Gaza."
Visitors can also shop at the Wall Mart, which opens on March 20, for supplies to add their own marks on the wall.
The hotel will officially open on March 11, and the timing of the opening is symbolic: 2017 marks 100 years since the British took control of Palestine, and the hotel will remain open until 2018.
Each room has a different theme, and Banksy's artwork covers the walls throughout the hotel. Management even requires guests to put down a $1,000 deposit to ensure no one gets away with any of the decor, and rooms are checked for missing items before guests can check-out.
This is definitely a bucket-list destination--so head there before the year ends!