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Credit: Courtesy of the artist

For their next act, Banksy will play hotelier.

True to form, the reclusive street artist’s latest project, which bills itself as “a genuine art hotel with fully functioning ensuite facilities and limited car parking”, is laced with subversive political undertones – not through a well-placed stencil of a rat, but by staking a claim to some of the most hotly contested real estate in the world.

Banksy’s ‘Walled Off Hotel‘ is in Palestine, 500 metres from the checkpoint entry to Jerusalem and a stones throw from the centre of Bethlehem.

Yes, that’s a surface level play on the Waldorf Astoria, and a much more incisive commentary on the socio and geopolitical conflicts that have been waged on these lands since, well, the beginning of recorded history. Specifically, the long-running British involvement in the area. In a FAQ on the hotel’s website, the hotel states their intention to run for the entirety of the centennial year “since the British took control of Palestine and helped kick start a Century of confusion and conflict”.

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Rooms at the Walled Off Hotel boast floor-to-ceiling views of the West Bank barrier wall, as well as original artworks by Banksy
Credit: Courtesy of the artist/The Walled Off Hotel

“Operated by the local community, we offer a warm welcome to everyone from all sides of the conflict and across the world,” reads a statement. “[The hotel is definitely not anti-Semitic] 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. The aim is to tell the story of the wall from every side and give visitors the opportunity to discover it for themselves. We offer an especially warm welcome to young Israelis. Absolutely no fanaticism is permitted on the premises.”

Facilities include a Piano Bar themed as a colonial outpost and equipped with a collection of Banksy works, including “vandalised oil paintings and statues choking on tear gas fumes” set amidst “an air of undeserved authority”; an independent gallery space, opening March 11, features a permanent collection of work by Palestinian artists curated by the historian and critic Ismal Duddera, as well as a temporary exhibition space; a museum dedicated solely to the ongoing biography of the wall and curated by an Essex University academic; and a self-playing baby grand piano programmed with a bespoke score of contemporary arrangements by artists including Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and iconic film composer Hans Zimmer.

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Open to the public, the hotel’s Piano Bar features original artworks, including a classical bust choking on tear gas fumes
Credit: Courtesy of the artist/The Walled Off Hotel

The musical residency will begin, naturally, with the greatest hits of Massive Attack, presented by 3D (the alias of Robert Del Naja), who last year was the subject of a theory postulated by a Scottish journalist who believed Del Naja to be Banksy.

Hotel rooms, almost every one boasting views of graffiti-strewn concrete walls, have been customised by the reclusive artist, as well as others including Canadian colour abstractionist Dominique Pétrin. A hostel-style budget room outfitted with surplus items from an Israeli military barracks also offers bunkbed accommodation from around $40. Conversely, a palatial suite is equipped to sleep a party of six, offering “everything a corrupt head of state would need”.

Reservations for the Walled Off Hotel open March 11. You can find out more information here.

Tile and cover image: Courtesy of the artist/The Walled Off Hotel

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