The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem is Banksy’s first and so far only permanent venture. Overlooking the separation barrier which cuts off the Palestinian town from the rest of Israel. It boasts ‘The Worst View in the World’.
In reality, the hotel is a great place to stay. Packed with Banksy art. It also houses a museum about the region, an art gallery with work from Palestinian artists and a gift shop. The wall dominates though. Along it’s length are works from artists from around the World. It’s also become a key part of the Bethlehem tourist industry. A reason for people to cross the border wall which is something other than the religious sites.
AN OPEN AIR PRISON
That said, most Palestinians would rather the wall not be there. “This wall has converted our towns and cities into an open air prison” Wisam Salsaa, the manager of the hotel told me. “It’s prevented our towns from expanding. It’s limiting our movement. It’s been catastrophic for us as Palestinians.”
That interview was one of three articles we published when we visited in January 2019. The first looked at the hotel itself. The second focused on the art and artists of the wall. The third meanwhile featured that exclusive interview. A rare in depth discussion with the man who showed Banksy around when he first visited the region in 2005. The man who would go on to become the manager of the hotel and Banksy’s partner in the venture.