My favorite artist Banksy is back at it again with his latest creation, The Walled Off Hotel. The 10 room Walled Off Hotel is complete with antique leather sofas, fine china and a staff of 45 locals. In true Banksy fashion, the new hotel has a strange tone with a strong message. The piano lounge decor includes several CCTV cameras mounted to the wall. If for any reason you want to stay in a room labeled “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, you guessed it, ask for The Presidential Suite. To make up for the worst view in the world the suite boasts a huge red bed with a jacuzzi in the center of the room. After you are done in the jacuzzi you can enjoy the cozy cinema room and bar. Aside from the furniture and art exhibits guests will also be surrounded by Banksy paintings. One painting shows an Israeli watch tower with Palestinian children swinging around it like a carousel. At the end of your stay, a small museum featuring local Palestinian artist and the history of the wall is an option.
The Walled Off Hotel is marketed to foreign visitors who would probably never stay in this particular area of the occupied West Bank. During the entire 14 month construction period Banksy and the walled off project remained a secret until the doors flew open on opening day. All of the hotel rooms look out onto the concrete slabs of the Israeli security wall that wraps around Bethlehem. If any of the hotel guests decide to stay on a higher floor their window will be in direct view with Israeli watchtowers. Since the hotel is built in Area C of the West Bank Israelis are able to come and enjoy the amenities as well. The cost of a luxury room is unclear but if you don’t mind sleeping in a bunk bed, 30 bucks for a dormitory style room is worth the experience.
“It’s exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture – with chaotic results,” Banksy said. “I don’t know why but 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.” Next time you’re in Bethlehem and need a place to stay, don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons and stay at The Walled Off Hotel. The hotel is meant to be a genuine place to stay, not just a political statement.
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