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Top-News  |  14. March 2017

THE WALLED OFF HOTEL

Israeli border policeman and Palestinian in a pillow fight, credit: www.walledoffhotel.com

Romance in the presidential suite, credit: www.walledoffhotel.com

art in the dining room, credit: www.walledoffhotel.com

monkey porter greeting guests, credit: www.walledoffhotel.com

the worst view in the world, credit: www.walledoffhotel.com

Banksy opens guest house in Bethlehem

First there was a deliberately depressing theme park, now Banksy opened the hotel with "the worst view in the world". The Walled Off Hotel is a three-storey immersive piece of art and also a fully functioning hostelry - with graffiti-strewn concrete in front of every room’s window.

Situated just 5 metres inside the huge security wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories, it enjoys direct sunlight for just 25 minutes a day. In arguably his most misguided work yet, Banksy has secretly converted a former pottery workshop under the shadow of an army watchtower into "a hotel, tea shop, home-made museum with en-suite art gallery and graffiti supplies store - an all-inclusive vandals resort"

Banksy has decorated many of the bedrooms and hallways with his trademark stencils in what constitutes his largest new body of work for many years. Guest rooms vary from the luxurious Presidential suite equipped with hot tub and roof garden, to the budget option - a room full of bunkbeds salvaged from an army barracks.

In acknowledgment of Britain’s historic role in the region, the hotel is decorated to resemble an English gentleman’s club from colonial times. High Tea is served in fine china to the sound of tinkling on a baby grand piano.

However, the refined ambience has been brought right up to date - the oil painted seascapes are awash with refugee’s lifejackets, statues choke on tear gas fumes and cherubs fall to earth starved of breath

Banksy claims the adjoining home-made museum is '"the world’s only visitor attraction dedicated to the biography of a single concrete structure". It is aimed at explaining the wall to the many coach parties of tourists who rush through it every day on their way to Bethlehem’s holy sites.

Situated on the first floor is a brand new art gallery exclusively dedicated to work made in the region. Its curator Ismal Duddera says it marks a significant milestone that will "open an entirely new chapter of Arab art in general and Palestinian art in particular".

The Walled Off is an open-hearted community resource that offers a warm welcome to people from all sides of the conflict and across the world. It is not allied to any political party or pressure group and aims to function as "a three-storey cure for fanaticism". Situated in 'area C' it is open to Israelis, unlike many parts of the west bank.

The Walled Off offers easy access to Jerusalem, the Church of the Nativity and the Dead Sea. The hotel is open to non-residents every day from Sunday, 11 March, between 11am - 10pm and opens to overnight guests on 20 March, 2017.

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