If you stay at the Walled Off you could find yourself literally sleeping inside a work of art. So far Banksy, Sami Musa and Dominique Petrin have customised guest rooms, more will follow.
As Diane Arbus once said ‘to live with an artwork is something different, to glimpse it from the corner of your eye.’
Britain got its hands on Palestine in 1917 and the piano bar is themed as a colonial outpost from those heady days. It is equipped with languid ceiling fans, leather bound couches and an air of undeserved authority. Guests can peruse a collection of Banksy artworks that include vandalised oil paintings and statues choking on tear gas fumes. Warm scones and freshly brewed tea are served daily on fine bone china and the Walled Off Salad should not be missed.
Is this a joke?
Nope – it’s a genuine art hotel with fully functioning ensuite facilities.
Is it safe?
Yes. The hotel is located in a bustling area fully open to tourists from across the world. It has all the restaurants, bars and taxis you’d expect. We’re 500 metres from the checkpoint to Jerusalem and a mile from the centre of Bethlehem. The official British Foreign Office advice declares it an entirely safe place to visit – and like any holiday you should check the FCO website or equivalent before travelling.
Do I need a VISA?
Most international travellers don’t need a visa to enter Israel as a tourist and you can stay for up to 3 months. Non-Palestinian visitors entering via Tel Aviv airport are given an entry card in their passport. So, unlike the majority of Palestinians, you’ll be permitted to travel wherever you wish.
Airport security at Tel Aviv, however, is legendary. Expect to be asked about the purpose of your stay and if you intend travelling to the West Bank. If you answer ‘yes’ you may be held up for some time. A new Israeli law implemented recently also bans supporters of the Palestinian BDS movement (a political boycott of Israeli products) from entering the country. Consequently many visitors choose not to highlight particular parts of their holiday and stick to politely discussing the weather.
How long will it be open for?
We’re aiming to be here for the whole of the centenary year, maybe longer if people come.
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.
Is it anti-Semitic?
Definitely not. The Walled Off Hotel is an entirely independent leisure facility set up and financed by Banksy. It is not aligned to any political movement or pressure group. Our Palestinian management and staff offer an especially warm welcome to young Israelis who come with an open heart.
Are you just making a profit from other people’s misery?
The hotel is now an independent local business. The aim is to break even and put any profits back into local projects.
Text and Photo,s ; the Walled Off Hotel
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