Aytan AkhundovaAytan Akhundova 10 JULY 2020 212 views 5 min. read

One night at Banksy’s hotel in Bethlehem

212 views 5 min. read
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Ever heard of Banksy? Where is the Walled Off Hotel?

Walled Off Hotel street

Yes, we are talking about Bristol's mysterious street artist who conquered the world with his controversial artworks.

Active from the 1990s, the artist has managed to keep the anonymous identity making his figure even more attractive to the graffiti fans around the globe. 

Being so famous for his political messages, Banksy has decided to go further and, in 2017, has opened Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem.  

Why Banksy made the Walled Off Hotel?

Well, because of its location in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, right next to the wall built by Israel to fence the city.

Not being the classiest location, the hotel, in fact, proudly carries the title of "the worst view in the world."

At the point when the hotel opened in March, 4 years prior, it was proposed to remain open temporary and speak to provocative installation art, turning the severe 700-kilometer-long wall that remains through involved Palestinian land into a faulty vacation destination. However, here we are in 2020, and the hotel is still open for the visitors."

It's exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started rearranging the furniture – with chaotic results," said Banksy.

"I don't know why, but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences." 

The area has become so popular that it was quickly approaching a top vacation destination with the city's customary site, the iconic spot where Jesus was born, the Church of the Nativity.

"The hotel has attracted 140,000 visitors – local Israelis, Palestinians, as well as internationals – the first year since it opened," says Wisam Salsa, the hotel's Palestinian co-founder and manager. "It's given a massive boost to the Palestinian tourism industry." 

The hotel's carrying impact was revealed when it featured for the first time at the Palestinian stand at the annual World Travel Market in London, the world's largest tourism trade show. The occasion draws in 50,000 travel specialists, who lead more than $4 billion arrangements during the show.

With the help of another genius move by Banksy, the Palestinian stand, one of the smallest usually, has achieved enormous success and has attracted thousands of people, which never happened before.

The provocative artist had announced in advance that he would bring a replica of one of his artworks on the wall just outside the Bethlehem historic hotel: cherubs trying to prise open two concrete slabs with a crowbar. He also promised a limited-edition poster showing children using one of Israel's military watchtowers as a fairground ride. A slogan underneath reads: "Visit historic Palestine. The Israeli army liked it so much they never left!" 

Simple and brilliant, just as everything he does!

So, let’s finally move to the hotel itself. What should you expect to see inside?

The hotel entrance is effectively available to the public. It is created as a secret riddle: a part pretentious tribute to the British pilgrim life, part clamorous presentation space for Banksy's progressive street art. Guests can appreciate a classic "cuppa tea", served in the best china, sitting under a few Israeli reconnaissance cameras divider mounted like chasing trophies or close by a picture of Jesus with the red spot of a marksman's laser-shaft on his brow. 


The hall prompts a gallery that is presumably the most extensive ever to report Israel's different colonization and authority techniques over Palestinians and their history of opposition. 

At its passage sits a rather surprising figure of Lord Balfour, the foreign secretary who 101 years ago started Britain's sponsorship of Palestine's colonization. He gave the notorious Balfour Declaration promising the Palestinians' country to the Jewish individuals. Press a button, and Balfour jerks into life to angrily sign the announcement around his work area. Upstairs is an enormous display showing probably the best of Palestinian craftsmanship, and the reception gathering arranges twice-a day tours of the wall.

It is the first in Bethlehem, says curator Housni Alkateeb Shehada, and a path for specialists, who regularly think that it's difficult to travel and contact a more extensive crowd.  

A gallery, where works by Palestinian craftsmen can run $10,000, includes significantly increasingly important works by Banksy himself. Most prominent is a painting of an Israeli fighter and a Palestinian man enveloped by a kaffiyeh beating each other with pillows surging with feathers, conjuring Goya's "Fight With Cudgels" of two men planted to their knees, sentenced to closeness thus interminably attempting to execute one another. 


The graffiti virtuoso has a long history in Bethlehem: four of his notable works are here, including "Girl and a Soldier," and a dove ensured by a shielded vest. 

Perhaps even his most recent artwork has been divulged precisely at this hotel a year ago.  

Named the Scar of Bethlehem, the work of art shows the infant Jesus in a trough alongside Mary and Joseph, yet the background is Israel's dubious West Bank hindrance with a shell opening in it, framing the state of a star. 


Enough with art history though, how about we return to the hotel interior! 

Entry to the rooms is taken cover behind a hidden door, disguised as a bookshelf. Visitors need to show a room key, molded like a segment of the wall, before a little sculpture of Venus that makes her chest shine red and the entryway open. Reminds a bit of Hogwarts, doesn't it?


The stairs lead to the other two floors, where the interior is adorned with the more blurring frontier wonder and Banksy art. Kitsch paintings, vases are covered behind close metal bandage of the sort Israel uses to shield its military Jeeps from stone-hurlers. 

A changeless "Sorry – out of service" sign swings from a lift, its half-open entryways are uncovering that it is walled up. 


What about the price of the stay at this unique location?

Well, it's highly subjective... On the off chance that you appreciate the opportunity to sleep encompassed by Banksy's gems, staying in the Walled Off Hotel is maybe a precious experience. Otherwise, it is overrated comparing with different hotels in Bethlehem. Some quarters bunks are sold at $30 per night except these are not generally accessible – in such a case, you may pay $60, including breakfast. Private double rooms from $215, including breakfast – and a $1,000 deposit, because of the hotel's "significant masterpieces". 

As the administration said it, the hotel was not opened for any materialistic advantage at all: the location on the site of a previous pottery workshop is possessed by a Palestinian businessperson, Wissam Salsa. The official website says all benefits will go come back to the local community.

A little background story for you

The Walled Off Hotel was valuably a follow-up to Banksy's "Dismaland Bemusement Park", set in the more natural and more secure setting of a British shoreline resort. For more than a month, that structure in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, has entertained visitors an anti-utopia form of a Disney-style amusement park, including an atomic mushroom-cloud, clinical trials turned out badly, people caught on the high seas, and the Cinderella story told as an auto accident. 

After shutting the Dismaland "bemusement park", the artist sent wood and apparatuses from the park's castle to the Jungle refugee camp, where he included a wall painting of Steve Jobs in his black polo neck, holding an early Apple PC in one hand while throwing a dark sack behind him. 

Bethlehem city

So, here you have it, one of the most unusual places to stay in the world. Would you stay at Banksy's hotel once we all can travel wherever we want?



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Aytan lives in Milan, Italy for 3 years now and has always been passionate about traveling and discovering new beautiful places all over the world.

As of 2020, she has been to 10 countries and numerous cities which she lost the number of but the majority of them are definitely located in beautiful Italy.

She loves digital marketing, art, music, and tries to find beauty in the smallest moments of our life. Her recent interest in spiritual growth has taught her one simple truth: "The most beautiful things in life are abstract." So, surely we can add travel to the list of these most beautiful things!


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