PALESTINE

Banksy Opens West Bank Hotel With World’s ‘Worst View’

Guests of the Walled Off hotel can choose to sleep in "Banksy's Room," featuring artwork of an Israeli border policeman and a Palestinian in a pillow fight

PALESTINE
The Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem — REUTERS
Mar 05, 2017 at 4:49 AM ET

The British street artist Banksy has unveiled the “Walled Off” hotel, overlooking the decidedly ugly separation barrier which divides the West Bank from Israel.

“Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before [Donald] Trump made it cool,” said Banksy in a statement.

The hotel juxtaposes faded old-world grandeur with political commentary on the brutalities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is located adjacent to the the towering, 440-mile barrier wall that meanders through the West Bank and East Jerusalem. While Israel says the wall keeps out Palestinian terrorists, many in West Bank cities like Bethlehem complain that it has done serious damage to the city’s economy — a full forty percent of which is based on tourism — and stands as a symbol of Palestinian oppression under Israeli occupation.

All ten rooms have a view of the West Bank wall, the “worst view” in the world, according to hotel owner Wisam Salsaa, who said Palestinians as well as Israelis are welcome to visit. “We want them to learn more about us, because when they know us it will break down the stereotypes and things will change,” he said.

The Walled Off’s ironic luxuries include a British colonial-style piano bar, “equipped with languid ceiling fans, leather bound couches and an air of undeserved authority,” the artist’s website says. Guests “can peruse a collection of Banksy artworks that include vandalized 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.”

While reporters were given a sneak-peak of the property over the weekend, the hotel will begin taking reservations on March 11. In addition to the Banksy gallery and presidential suite, notable features include Room Number Three, or “Banksy’s room,” where guests can sleep in a king-sized bed beneath a painting of an Israeli border policeman in a pillow fight with a Palestinian demonstrator.

Banksy’s satirized version of New York’s Waldorf is not the artist’s first project in the Palestinian territories. In recent years, the artist secretly stenciled a number of murals, including “Girl With The Balloons” — featuring a girl flying over the wall with a bunch of balloons — on the Bethlehem section of the wall, not far from the hotel.

Last year, Banksy is believed to have discreetly completed four street murals in Gaza, including “Bomb Damage,” depicting an image of the Greek goddess Niobe weeping for her dead offspring, painted on a metal door which was the last remaining part of a two-story house destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza. The Palestinian owner of the door was duped into selling the door for less than $200, unaware that Banksy’s other murals had sold for as high as $400,000.