Hotel with the worst view in the world
Banksy is in the news again - this time because of the Walled Off Hotel that he designed and financed in the city of West Bank, in Bethlehem. What’s so special about a hotel, you might ask. But this is Banksy we are talking about, a visionary dystopian, and there has to be something quirky and political in each of his projects. And the fact that the artist himself claims this hotel has the “worst view in the world” should be enough to make you sit up and take note.
While many of you will be baffled by this announcement, people familiar with the philosophy of this eccentric, anonymous graffiti artist won't be surprised or shocked by his proclamation.
The entire hotel can be described as the artist's way of showing to the world the constant state of unrest and conflict that has become the norm in Israel and Palestine. Almost every window of the hotel rooms opens to the view of the 30-feet Israeli West Bank Barrier put up by Israel as 'protection against potential Palestinian attackers'. Just a few steps away from the hotel's front door, is the wall, which divides Jerusalem and Bethlehem and has been described as the biggest canvas in the world containing political graffiti, art and different messages. Nearly a decade ago, Banksy chose this wall to make his political statement through art, and painted nine graffiti works, leading to other counter artists using this medium to express their thoughts. Some of the paintings never had official names but are merely described by the content of the art. Many artists even painted artworks on nearby Palestinian and Israeli walls to further contribute to Banksy's project. Interestingly, the hotel has an art supply store adjacent to it so that guests can add their two cents to the wall and be a part of this movement.
The hotel would take you on a trip into today's dystopian milieu and let the loss and disorienting strangeness seep into your consciousness - that too just for USD 30 per night. It has a presidential suite equipped with luxuries like a mini-theatre, study, bar and jacuzzi, which is actually a water tank speckled with bullet holes. Sitting comfortably in their room, guests will be able to marvel, so to speak, at the Israeli security watchtower through their windows.
There is much more to discover in the hotel - like an art museum with Banksy's artworks. It also accommodates an installation work, depicting the signing of the Balfour Declaration, the basis for the international push for the birth of Israel. The walls of the bar areas are adorned with security cameras and slingshots. There is a room with bunk beds that have foot lockers, which gives you a vibe of living in an army barrack. The hotel has been carefully managed by Banksy over the last 14 months. Banksy himself supervised every single detail of this project in utter secrecy to protect his anonymity, the way he always does.
This nine-room establishment will officially start operating from March 11 this year, and I can't wait to read reviews on Trip Advisor from people who will choose to spend their night in room number three.
Known as Banksy's room, guests who get to spend the night here will be able to sleep right next to this beautiful but deeply moving painting where a Palestinian and Israeli border policemen are seen in a pillow fight.
The Walled Off Hotel, in every sense, can be treated as a form of protest art which will potentially open up a space for the millions of voiceless Palestinians and Israelis - who have nothing to do with the politics and the conflict - to be seen and heard. This bizarre boutique hotel is Banksy's latest addition of art projects that makes a strong statement about political strife, thereby stirring much needed conversations. While we wonder who would want to go for vacation in a war-torn, risk prone locality like West Bank, we can't help but look forward to reading the reviews and reliving the experience of people who will become a part of this living satirical commentary.