Banksy hotel without a view opens to guests in Bethlehem video

REUTERS

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.

Guests began arriving at the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem on Monday, the quirky guesthouse created by British street artist Banksy that stands a few feet away from Israel's towering security barrier in the occupied West Bank.

The three-storey hotel, its low-lit bar and restaurant decorated like a British colonial clubhouse but with ironic works by the artist covering the walls, was unveiled two weeks ago but has only now opened to overnight stays.

There are 10 rooms, ranging from a budget barracks-style accommodation for backpackers to a presidential suite that can sleep six. None of the rooms has a view -- all of them look out on Israel's five-metre, graffiti-covered concrete wall.

A statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy stands on the entrance to Banksy's new hotel.
GETTY IMAGES

A statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy stands on the entrance to Banksy's new hotel.

The Bristol-based artist, who has become a global phenomenon over the past decade but whose real identity is a closely guarded secret, has described the guesthouse as having "the worst views of any hotel in the world".

Read more:
Christchurch: NZ's new city of cool, more Banksy than Banks
Welcome to the wall: Artist Banksy opens Bethlehem hotel
Banksy artworks going on show in Rome in exhibition

That has not deterred guests.

The Walled Off hotel is located in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
REUTERS

The Walled Off hotel is located in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

"I came because I heard Banksy opened a new hotel and I was curious," said one visitor arriving from Melbourne, Australia. "I wanted to check it out and check out the West Bank, too.

"The hotel with the worst views, that's quite interesting. It's unique."

Manager Wissam Salsa, who kept the project secret for more than a year as building work was completed and local staff were trained, said the hotel was fully booked until June.

The hotel has been fully booked until June.
AMMAR AWAD

The hotel has been fully booked until June.

"We are expecting 18 guests to arrive this afternoon from different parts of the world, from the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and Finland," he said.

Ad Feedback

The mayor of Bethlehem said that while the town where Jesus was born already attracted a large number of tourists to sites like the Church of the Nativity, the Walled Off added an extra dimension.

"(It's) a very significant addition to the entity of Bethlehem as a touristic city," said Mayor Vera Baboun.

The hotel owners say it will be a functioning hotel along with being part art gallery and part political statement.
GETTY IMAGES

The hotel owners say it will be a functioning hotel along with being part art gallery and part political statement.

"Having Banksy putting all his paintings in the hotel, it has significant political messages," she said, suggesting it would draw attention to Israel's occupation of the West Bank, which began in June 1967, after the six-day Middle East war.

Bedroom partitions and hallways are embellished with the Banksy's stencil graffiti work. One reveals an Israeli soldier and masked Palestinian youth having a pillow fight, and a statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy stands on the entrance, garments falling out of the suitcase he holds. 

A visitor takes pictures for graffiti work painted by street artist Banksy showing an Israeli soldier and masked ...
REUTERS

A visitor takes pictures for graffiti work painted by street artist Banksy showing an Israeli soldier and masked Palestinian youth having a pillow fight.

A waiter stands in the Walled Off hotel.
REUTERS

A waiter stands in the Walled Off hotel.

 - Reuters

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback