Opened at the beginning of March 2017, Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, Palestine has become a popular tourist destination for many. Not only is the whole property an art piece in and of itself but it also contains many pieces of Banksy’s work as well as operating as a fully functional 10 room hotel. If you are interested in booking a stay here check out their site, however they have been selling out months in advance.
When I visited the Walled Off Hotel I was staying in Jerusalem so here are my best tips for how to get to Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel from Jerusalem. It was quite easy to get there from Jerusalem and took less than an hour. From the main bus station hub near the Damascus gate in Jerusalem I took bus 231 headed to Bethlehem. Although apparently any bus leaving from there to Bethlehem will get you close enough, bus 234 also goes there. The price was less than 7 shekels which can be paid to the driver who can also give you change. Cash only.
It is best if you are visiting to have a phone with a sim card that works. Or at the very least download the Google maps to your phone and pin point the hotel while still on wifi. (click HERE for how to do that). Search for the “Banksy Guest House” and not the Walled Off Hotel. (NOTE: Do not also confuse this with the Banksy Guest House on Hebron Road which is different). The website has the address 182 Caritas Street but Google wouldn’t find that location for me on maps. Then take bus 231 as close as it will get you to the guest house. From there you should already be inside of Palestine and you can walk to the house or catch one of the many taxis driving around, most should know where the Banksy hotel is or you can direct them with your maps.
The first image above you can see the bus route on bus 231 from Damascus Gate in Jerusalem to the Walled Off Hotel. The second image shows you where our bus started going off of the google maps route in red, which is where we decided to get off of the bus. At this point we didn’t realize it but we were actually already inside of Palestine. From there we waved down a taxi driver who took us to the hotel. On the third image the dropped pin is where Google thinks the Walled Off Hotel is but it is actually about a block further around part of the wall that juts out into the street and is located where I have drawn a red X. From the red X to the green X follow that blue route to leave to get to Checkpoint 300 to enter back into Israel. Around where the green X is there are ramps that take you into a building, take those to get into the check point. Follow all of the signs and go through the checkpoint until you exit on to the street and there by the yellow X will be the bus stop for bus 234 to take you back to Jerusalem.
If you are arriving by bus 234 stay on the bus until the last stop which should be Checkpoint 300. Follow the third map backwards in through the checkpoint, down the street, turn left, then right on to Caritas Road to find the hotel. It really is much more easier to figure out in person, I promise you.
At first the lobby appears welcoming but as you focus in on the artwork and decor it is actually quite unsettling. What appears to be paintings of sunsets on beautiful beaches also contain hundreds of left over, empty life jackets tossed aside from refugees escaping their homes by boat in search of a brighter future.
Cake and cocktails are served in the hotel lobby
As you enter the hotel you are in a lovely lobby full of art and unique decorations. Here you can sit and have an afternoon tea, a drink or light meal and cake. Unless you are a guest of the hotel however you can not venture to see any of the rooms.
A sign posted at the entrance to the museum
A timeline of events and actual protest signs and images from the people involved
In the far back corner is where you will find a museum about the conflicts with Palestine and Israel and the wall. It is quite detailed and extremely informative however since this hotel was put together in secret they could only gather so much information. Now that they are public they are constantly searching for more artefacts and stories from others to include in the museum to make it even bigger and better.
At the moment the hotel is estimated to be open for around a year, it could be more or less, so the sooner you get there the better.
All profits made from the hotel go back into breaking even on the costs for the hotel’s upkeep and any profit after that is to be given back to local projects. Banksy paid for the projects installation and will not be making any profits.
Just outside of the hotel is the wall full of graffiti
To leave and go back to Jerusalem we left the hotel and walked up Caritas street, then took the second left before the checkpoint wall and then the first right towards the checkpoint entrance.a As soon as you turn right you will most likely see a bunch of taxis waiting for people at the border crossing to drive them around. At the end of the street you kind of come to a wall and can go straight to the left or up ramps to the right. Go right up the ramps and it will take you through the checkpoint. Checkpoint 300.
image credit Nailah Hayward
Walking between checkpoint 300 between Israel and Palestine
When we were there we hardly saw another person not even anyone that worked there. We went through turnstiles and walked up and down some ramps. We excited one building crossed a road and into another where we went through an unmanned security X-ray machine. All of the locals around us however were treating it like it was manned and made sure to put all items through the machine and empty their pockets just like at the airport. Finally you come to some booths. The locals had to show cards and some even scanned their finger prints. We went through with passports in hand and we were just waved through without even being stopped. Once we exited to the left was bus 234 waiting and we hopped on it and made our way back to Jerusalem, in less than 25 minutes.
Hopefully with these tips you can visit Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel as well. Whatever you decide to do please be safe. I take no responsibility on anything that might happen to you if you decide to visit this destination and I only speak from my personal experiences. Always trust your gut and do your research on safety and a destination ahead of time.
I am a Canadian and chose to keep my opinions to myself over the issues that are happening between these two places. I have visited but I am still not nearly enough informed on the topic to make statements going either way. I do hope that peace can come to these people and to the rest of the world.
To see a tour of the lobby and museum watch the Facebook Live video that I created while I was there.