Banksy's art revealed in West Bank hotel with world's 'worst view'

A Palestinian guesthouse packed with artwork of the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy unveiled itself Friday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

New Palestinian hotel features satirical work of mysterious artist on inside, Israeli watchtower outside

A doorman stands at the quirky entrance of the Walled Off Hotel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem Friday. The nine-room guesthouse is packed with the elusive artist Banksy's work. (Dusan Vranic/The Associated Press)

A Palestinian guesthouse packed with artwork of the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy unveiled itself Friday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, with a sneak peek of what the owner sarcastically called the "hotel with the worst view in the world."

Wisam Salsaa, 42, said the nine-room establishment named the Walled Off Hotel will officially open March 11, but he offered a handful of reporters a tour of the hotel looking directly at the West Bank separation barrier erected by Israel to ward off potential Palestinian attackers. The barrier, which Palestinians consider to be a land grab that stifles their movement, is heavily decorated by artists and Banksy has previously painted several murals on a walled segment of it.

The hotel, several of whose rooms look onto an Israeli security watchtower, is awash in the trademark satirical work of the mysterious artist. The highlight is room number three, known as Banksy's Room, where guests sleep in a king-size bed underneath Banksy's artwork showing a Palestinian and an Israeli in a pillow fight.

A Banksy wall painting showing Israeli border policeman and a Palestinian in a pillow fight is seen in one of the rooms of the the Walled Off Hotel. (Dusan Vranic/The Associated Press)

The hotel also features a presidential suite and a museum with the artist's politically-charged work. It has the markings of a gentleman's club from the English colonial period. The entrance to one small niche accommodates a life-size figure of Arthur James Balfour signing his 1917 letter that came to be known as the Balfour declaration, and was the basis for the international push for the creation of Israel.

Gavin Grindon of the University of Essex, who co-curated with Banksy the museum inside the Walled Off Hotel, stands by the reenactment of the signing of the Balfour declaration, which laid the groundwork for the international push for the creation of Israel. (Dusan Vranic/The Associated Press)

The cheapest rooms were available from $30 a night.

The whole project took 14 months to complete and was kept under complete secrecy, in accordance with Banksy's request to protect his anonymity. Salsaa said the entire interior was personally overseen by Banksy, to the very last details. The hotel is the largest new body of work in years, according to a press release distributed by representatives who attended Friday's tour.

A wall is decorated with security cameras and slingshots, sometimes used by Palestinians to shoot stones at soldiers, in the bar area of the Walled Off Hotel and the Israeli security barrier. The owner said Banksy personally oversaw the entire interior of the establishment. (Dusan Vranic/The Associated Press)

Banksy has made previous forays into the Palestinian territories. In one secret visit, he drew a painting of a girl pulled upward by balloons on the barrier facing his current project. Last year, he is believed to have snuck into Gaza to draw four street murals, including one on a metal door that depicted the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house. The painting, titled Bomb Damage, was drawn on the last remaining part of a two-story house that was destroyed in the 2014 conflict between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

An Israeli security watchtower is seen from one of the hotel rooms. (Dusan Vranic/The Associated Press)

The artist's satirical stencils — rats, kissing policemen, riot police with yellow smiley faces — first appeared on walls in Bristol before spreading to London and then around the world. His artwork comments on war, child poverty and the environment. His identity remains a mystery, but his works have fetched as much as $1.8 million US at auctions.

Banksy's work is displayed inside the hotel, which opens March 11. (Dusan Vranic/The Associated Press)