0800 110 108 Our Stores Contact

Banksy hotel without a view opens to guests in Bethlehem

Guests began arriving at the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem on Monday, the quirky guesthouse created by British street artist Banksy that stands a few feet away from Israel's towering security barrier in the occupied West Bank.

The three-storey hotel, its low-lit bar and restaurant decorated like a British colonial clubhouse but with ironic works by the artist covering the walls, was unveiled two weeks ago but has only now opened to overnight stays.

There are 10 rooms, ranging from a budget barracks-style accommodation for backpackers to a presidential suite that can sleep six. None of the rooms has a view -- all of them look out on Israel's five-metre, graffiti-covered concrete wall.

The Bristol-based artist, who has become a global phenomenon over the past decade but whose real identity is a closely guarded secret, has described the guesthouse as having "the worst views of any hotel in the world".

That has not deterred guests.

"I came because I heard Banksy opened a new hotel and I was curious," said one visitor arriving from Melbourne, Australia. "I wanted to check it out and check out the West Bank, too.

"The hotel with the worst views, that's quite interesting. It's unique."

Manager Wissam Salsa, who kept the project secret for more than a year as building work was completed and local staff were trained, said the hotel was fully booked until June.

"We are expecting 18 guests to arrive this afternoon from different parts of the world, from the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and Finland," he said.

The mayor of Bethlehem said that while the town where Jesus was born already attracted a large number of tourists to sites like the Church of the Nativity, the Walled Off added an extra dimension.

"(It's) a very significant addition to the entity of Bethlehem as a touristic city," said Mayor Vera Baboun.

"Having Banksy putting all his paintings in the hotel, it has significant political messages," she said, suggesting it would draw attention to Israel's occupation of the West Bank, which began in June 1967, after the six-day Middle East war.

Bedroom partitions and hallways are embellished with the Banksy's stencil graffiti work. One reveals an Israeli soldier and masked Palestinian youth having a pillow fight, and a statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy stands on the entrance, garments falling out of the suitcase he holds. 

As reported by Reuters. Video and more images on Stuff.

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Dubai Airports has unleashed the world’s fastest free wi-fi connection at an airport to millions of passengers who travel through DXB each month.

Aptly named WOW-Fi, the service provides internet connection up to a staggering 100mbps, surpassing all other airports.

This follows Dubai Airports’ launch of an upgraded free unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi connection across Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) in December last year.

Michael Ibbitson, Executive Vice President of Technology and Infrastructure at Dubai Airports said, “As the biggest international airport in the world, we are at the heart of many journeys across the globe. To support these travellers, late last year we launched unlimited free high-speed Wi-Fi across our airports but our goal was to offer something they have never experienced at an airport before. With WOW-Fi passengers will get a speed of up to 100mbps to enable them to quickly download or upload emails, pictures, videos and social media updates and then get on with enjoying the airport or connecting to their friends and family across the world.”

The unlimited free Wi-Fi at DXB connects with just one click and offers speed that sets a new benchmark for airports globally. To ensure the speed and reliability, Dubai Airports is investing in more than 6,000 new Wi-Fi access points to upgrade the entire wireless network infrastructure across both airports. Dubai Airports also enhanced the internet links to 5Gbps each to provide the required bandwidth and resilience, while new web applications have also been specially developed for each terminal and concourse to improve information for passengers.

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Richard Fain, the chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, is willing to bet $5 billion that he can take everything you know about cruising and flip it upside down. Or at least outside in.

On Monday, he and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises - one of three brands in the Royal Caribbean family - announced a new category of ship that, among other transformational design moves, brings stateroom balconies indoors. With a push of a button, the floor-to-ceiling windows of Celebrity Edge-class staterooms retract like a super-sleek garage door, leaving nothing but a simple glass railing between your living room furniture and the crystal-blue sea.

Portholes and balconies are set to become a thing of the past. At least, that's what Fain and Lutoff-Perlo are betting on.

These balconies on-demand are just one of the first-to-market design features raising the price tag of Edge-class ships to $1 billion a piece. Here's what else to expect on these tricked-out ocean liners, which are packed with enough bells and whistles to make even the most fervent anti-cruiser consider a trip on the high seas.

"Infinite" Verandas

By redefining the balcony, Celebrity is able to expand cabins right up to the edge of the ship - almost like an infinity pool. As a result, stateroom floor plans are (on average) 23 percent larger than before, with bathrooms gaining an extra 20 percent of square footage.

A Magic Carpet Ride

Imagine a mini-deck that is the length of a tennis court which hovers off the edge of the ship, moving up and down along a vertical track almost like an elevator. That's the Magic Carpet, a new public space that will serve different purposes at different times of the day - a stylish disembarkation point. a lunch spot with wraparound views, an extension to the pool area (sometimes with a DJ), a fine dining restaurant that's cantilevered over the sea. 

Floating Villas With Private Plunge Pools

Suites have traditionally made up 5 percent of Celebrity's room stock; on Edge ships, they'll represent 12 percent of the accommodations. Included are six duplex villas that shed the traditional décor you'll find on, say, luxury cruise line Cunard's two-floor suites-instead, they have private plunge pools and direct access to the one of the ship's sundecks. Eucalyptus-treated cashmere mattresses from Italy, Bulgari bath amenities, butler service, packing and unpacking support, and a bar that's set up based on your own preferences: They're just a few of the signature amenities for suite guests.

Mobile-Controlled Everything

Wearables are a thing of the past. On the Edge ships, you'll be able to do everything on your phone, from checking in to unlocking your stateroom door or controlling your room's temperature and lighting. It all happens via a proprietary Celebrity app, which also puts the concierge, ship map, and daily event schedule in each guest's pocket.

The Ultimate Adult "Playscape"

The so-called resort deck on the Celebrity Edge ships takes the adult pool concept to a whole new level. The pool itself (The Solarium) is enclosed by a tessellated, glass-like dome for all-weather access. It  leads to a rooftop garden landscaped with sculptural trees and maintained by a dedicated horticulturist so that it can be used for parties (think live music, wine, and blankets) or dinner-and-a-movie nights.

The Bottom Line

Lutoff-Perlo and Fain both talk about the Edge class as an evolution in modern luxury, capable of drawing more affluent younger travelers and converting them into cruisers.

"When you have to sign a contract for $5 billion, your hand shakes. But now that I've seen the design, my hand no longer shakes," said Fain. And Lutoff-Perlo indicated there's more to come. "Every new feature needs to be a must-see, must-have experience-that's true of all these additions, along with several more amazing things we'll be revealing later on," she teased.

Want to get a spot on the inaugural sailing? Bookings are officially open for the first ship's maiden voyage, departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Dec. 16, 2018, for a week-long Caribbean circuit.

GET IN TOUCH NOW - Space is guaranteed not to last - Call us on 0800 110 108!

As reported by The Herald and Washington Post

submitted by -- Gayle