Street artist Banksy has just opened his unique take on the hotel concept in Palestine. The hotel is on Caritas Street, Bethlehem. It is mere feet away from the wall illegally built in 2002 by the Israelis to supposedly prevent Palestinians attacking Israeli cities. Banksy calls this the “Walled Off Hotel”.
Like his theme park Dismaland, it highlights, in Banksy’s unique way, the depressing and hopelessness of various aspects of life—in this case the Palestinian/ Israeli situation. Built in a colonial style, the hotel offers 10 intricately decorated guest rooms, some affording panoramic views over the aforementioned wall with its bleak security towers.
Banksy’s artworks and concepts are apparent throughout. But at the heart of the hotel is the Piano Bar, which not surprisingly features a piano — a baby grand player piano. Banksy provides such spectacular attention to detail throughout the establishment that even the piano’s decal has had the “treatment”.
The launch of the hotel coincides with the centennial of the 1917 Balfour Declaration. The opening night featured a set by Elton John. He wasn’t actually there but, as can be seen from the video (below), provided the next best thing – a remote performance with video synced to his own accompaniment on the player piano. This was recorded especially for the hotel, and each night the piano will ‘perform’ further exclusive concerts.
The hotel also has its own museum, where guests can discover the “fully fact checked” history of the area. Various artefacts from the conflict, and works of local artists are also on display.
Banksy said he hopes the hotel will generate millions of dollars for the local economy. As it is in Area C of the West Bank, anyone can book to stay (including Israelis). Prices vary from 30 USD (for a bunk-bed in the dormitory) upwards.