Elusive artist Banksy has once again grabbed the attention of the art world with the announced opening of the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. Located in viewing distance of the West Bank Separation Barrier, this former guest house saw a transformation over the past 14 months, as Banksy morphed the space into a art hotel.
Open from March 20, 2017, the hotel includes 8 guest rooms, 1 budget barracks, and a presidential suite. As with Dismaland, Banksy is also involving other artists in the project, with Palestinian artist Sami Musa and Canadian artist Dominique Petrin each designing rooms. The hotel also includes a piano bar, exhibition space, and area dedicated to the history of the wall. Visitors to the Walled Off Hotel will sleep in art laden rooms because “as Diane Arbus once said ‘to live with an artwork is something different, to glimpse it from the corner of your eye.'”
Why open a hotel in Palestine now? Banksy reminds us, “2017 marks a hundred years since the British took control of Palestine and helped kick start a century of confusion and conflict. At the time of writing, there are no special events being planned to mark the occasion.”
Though the hotel is sure to stir controversy, it's important to remember Banksy's longstanding connection to Palestine. More than a decade ago he painted the Separation Barrier, and in 2007 his Santa's Ghetto pop-up shop was located in Bethlehem. Over the years he's continued to visit, most recently leaving his mark in February 2015.
If nothing else, the hotel, which Banksy's website states is run by the local community, will bring attention—and tourist dollars—back to this conflicted area of the world. Rooms start from $30 for a bunk bed in the budget room, while common areas will be open to the public from 11 am to 7:30 pm (10 pm for the piano bar). Get booking now, as reservations are sure to go quickly when the system goes online March 11, 2017.
“The hotel boasts floor to ceiling views of graffiti-strewn concrete from almost every room. And for the exhibitionists amongst you—many are within range of the army watchtower.”