Gemma Bell

The Walled Off Hotel

  • Where:
  • Why:To visit Banksy’s hotel and visit Palestine.
  • When:June 2017
  • Who:Me and Ben
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The Walled Off Hotel Welcome to The Walled Off Hotel, facing the 26ft high (8 meters) Separation Wall.

Welcome to The Walled Off Hotel, facing the 26ft high (8 meters) Separation Wall.

The Walled Off Hotel Is it Ben Pundole at Burning Man?! It could be!

Is it Ben Pundole at Burning Man?! It could be!

The Walled Off Hotel Reception to the hotel and bar lounge adorned with Banksy’s artwork.

Reception to the hotel and bar lounge adorned with Banksy’s artwork.

The Walled Off Hotel Literally sleeping in an artwork - the stenciled wall of one of two rooms designed by Banksy, and our room for our stay.

Literally sleeping in an artwork - the stenciled wall of one of two rooms designed by Banksy, and our room for our stay.

The Walled Off Hotel The bizarrely elegant artist room by Banksy with a telescope to try and look over the wall.

The bizarrely elegant artist room by Banksy with a telescope to try and look over the wall.

The Walled Off Hotel Room with a View - ‘the worst view in the world’ - with a smattering of graffiti. There’s a shop next door where you can create your own stencil, choose your spray paint of choice and get on a ladder!

Room with a View - ‘the worst view in the world’ - with a smattering of graffiti. There’s a shop next door where you can create your own stencil, choose your spray paint of choice and get on a ladder!

The Walled Off Hotel This bit I loved! When checking in we were given a wad of paper that detailed, with images and descriptions, every single artifact in the room. From the little glasses in the bathroom, to the books on each bedside table, to statues, plants, everything. I meticulously went round the room marking each item off and counting each book. Steal anything at your peril, you’ll pay for it! When checking out, the same list was ticked off to make sure everything was still there. 

And this was brilliant. How awful for anyone to steal from the hotel when every little thing was placed in that particular place for a reason. The whole hotel is a work of art for every visitor to enjoy. (However, we did steal a bar of soap or two!)

This bit I loved! When checking in we were given a wad of paper that detailed, with images and descriptions, every single artifact in the room. From the little glasses in the bathroom, to the books on each bedside table, to statues, plants, everything. I meticulously went round the room marking each item off and counting each book. Steal anything at your peril, you’ll pay for it! When checking out, the same list was ticked off to make sure everything was still there.

And this was brilliant. How awful for anyone to steal from the hotel when every little thing was placed in that particular place for a reason. The whole hotel is a work of art for every visitor to enjoy. (However, we did steal a bar of soap or two!)

The Walled Off Hotel The Piano Bar is open all day, serving a mix of traditional Palestinian food and English dishes such as a ‘Walled Off Salad’ (see what they did there?)

The Piano Bar is open all day, serving a mix of traditional Palestinian food and English dishes such as a ‘Walled Off Salad’ (see what they did there?)

The Walled Off Hotel
The Walled Off Hotel Another well adorned nook in the Piano Bar.

Another well adorned nook in the Piano Bar.

The Walled Off Hotel What unites human beings is huge and wonderful, what divides human beings is small and mean’ - the museum in the hotel, there’s also a great bookshop.

What unites human beings is huge and wonderful, what divides human beings is small and mean’ - the museum in the hotel, there’s also a great bookshop.

The Walled Off Hotel The lounge on the first floor by the ‘out of order’ elevator.

The lounge on the first floor by the ‘out of order’ elevator.

The Walled Off Hotel The rolling hills of Bethlehem from Hosh Jasmin.

The rolling hills of Bethlehem from Hosh Jasmin.

The Walled Off Hotel The divisive and unnecessary separation wall that is a constant daily reminder to Palestinians (and a reality) of their lack of freedom of movement’.

The divisive and unnecessary separation wall that is a constant daily reminder to Palestinians (and a reality) of their lack of freedom of movement’.

Highs & Lows

  • The ART! In the UK we can think, “oh sigh, another Banksy …”, but when you’re surrounded by his original work, and pieces you had forgotten you’d loved then it’s completely different. From the painting of the kid goat being cradled by a leopard, or the guard tower from the wall turned into a merry-go-round, or the protester throwing a bouquet of flowers, all are mesmerizing, disturbing and thought provoking.

  • The location - such a powerful location, just a walk away from Checkpoint 300 and all that that is, but Bethlehem is one of the most welcoming towns I’ve ever been to.

  • The hotel has a brilliant museum (non residents can visit for an entry fee, hotel guests go for free) that takes visitors through the years of the occupation to the present day. It’s an uncomfortable experience of local stories, artifacts and testimonies.

The Barometer

  • Design

  • Website

  • Mini Bar

  • Environmental Consciousness

  • Night's Sleep

  • Service

  • Amenities

  • Takeable Treats

  • Refer a Friend

  • Overall Value

  • Life Changing

Total: 50/50

Important Bits

  • Type

    The ultimate pop-up statement hotel.

  • Vibe

    The Walled Off Hotel has opened in the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration, hence the tongue-in-cheek, mocking of the ‘Englishness’ of the hotel’s interior. In corners of the hotel, and in our room, we find more royal memorabilia and miniature glasses with foxhunts and hounds printed on them as if from a car-boot sale in the UK. But the vibe is welcoming and friendly, while the surroundings challenged us to see things differently.

  • Location

    Right by the wall that separates Israel from Palestine, near Checkpoint 300, situated in one of the friendliest towns I have visited, Bethlehem; with its refugee camps, armed-guards, unnecessarily blocked-off roads, and the best falafel and hummus in the world!

  • Rooms

    8

  • Music

    Music in particular comes from the baby grand piano; a ‘plays itself’ piano with moving keys is fun and again thought provoking. On the opening night Elton John played the first concert, remotely.

  • Year Opened

    2017

  • Designed By

    Banksy

  • Health & Wellness

    No

  • Restaurant

    The Piano Bar serves a simple Palestinian breakfast of falafel, hummus, shakshuka and some pastries, and then the ‘Walled Off Salad’ for lunch, Afternoon Tea and Mezze in the evening alongside locally brewed beer and local Cremisan wines.

  • Bar

    The Piano Bar

  • Minibar

    No mini bar, but we loved the lounge on the first floor next to the ‘out of order lift’ with tins of biscuits, tea and coffee.

  • Children

    Yes, it’s an education everyone should experience.

  • Price

    From the Budget room for $30 a night to the Presidential Suite, which is just under $1000. Our room was $295.

  • Website

    Visit website

Go to Afteem’s near Manger Square

Go to Afteem’s near Manger Square

Manger Square, Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories

Dinner at Hosh Jasmin

Dinner at Hosh Jasmin

Hosh Jasmin, El-MaKhrur Street

Walk the Wall

Walk the Wall

Checkpoint 300/Bethlehem Road

The Walled Off Hotel

The Walled Off Hotel

The Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem

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