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words by ben stephens
It’s true. As far as it’s a real thing and there are rooms with beds and they are bookable from March 11. It’s taken 14 months for Sami Musa, Dominique and Banksy to renovate and customise each guest room to create a unique experience.
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Elton John played at the opening party, there’s a chimpanzee bellboy and it’s dubbed as the hotel with the worst view in the world – Welcome to The Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem.
The hotel is yet to take its first guest, that’ll take place later this month, though the hotel’s bar, The Piano Bar is open right now if you’re in the neighbourhood. Speaking of which, the hotel is located 500 meters to the Jerusalem and about a mile to the centre of Bethlehem. The hotel plays host to views of the wall that divides the state of Palestine from the state Israel, as the wall is right across the road from the entrance of The Walled Off Hotel.
There are 10 guest rooms in total. Starting with budget bunks beds, styled on the Israeli military barracks and coming with a no frill experience, however, a pair of complimentary ear plugs can be found on your bed. Then at the other end is the presidential, with plunge baths, a library and home cinema. These rooms are stocked with original artworks from Banksy and a range of local artists – booking this room requires a deposit of $1000 upon check in, just to safe guard them from theft. On that note, if you are found to be stealing from the hotel, they offer this in the FAQ:
‘The artwork here has been donated to the community and their struggle & any person found attempting to steal from them, or deface hotel property, will be arrested, transported to the police station in Ramallah and prosecuted to the full extent of local law.’
It’s intense. It’s bold and it draws attention to an area of the world where contested land and fighting occurs every day. The hotel will soon house a store aptly named Wall Mart, which will be a graffiti supply store, stocked with everything you need to make your mark.
The Hotel offers one last word on behaviour around the neighbourhood…
‘Aggressive drunkenness or loud public nudity is not encouraged. Under no circumstances should you shine laser pens at the army watchtowers.’
For more information and to book your next stay at The Walled Off Hotel, click HERE
PS – Fat Boy Slim is playing at The Walled Off’s first street party on March 13.
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