One enterprising man deep in the Jordanian desert is proving that when it comes to hotel design, it’s the spirit that counts. Mohammed Al Malaheem, 64, has converted an old VW Beetle into a mini hotel for guests visiting his hometown of Al Jaya. Although it may not technically be the world’s smallest hotel, it certainly runs large when it comes to hospitality.
A former tour guide for the area, Malaheem (who goes by the name Abu Ali) and his daughter revamped the tiny vehicle into a hotel room in 2011 after his retirement. The roadside hotel was designed to provide a nice place for visitors to the largely deserted village to feel comfortable. After working on the car’s design, Ali converted an adjacent cave into a reception area named “Baldwin’s Grotto”, complete with a bathroom, kitchen, and gift shop.
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Ali told CNN that the mini hotel project was mainly inspired by his love of his hometown, “This village is my homeland, I was born here, I grew up here, I lived here. I wanted to start a project that improves its situation and places it on the tourism map, because it truly overlooks some of the most beautiful scenery in the region.”
Although the village may not be on top of many travel bucket lists, Al Jaya does have its charms. The area is located near Al Shoubak, home to the 12th century castle called Montreal. What it lacks in fancy amenities, the hotel more than makes up for in off-grid relaxation, full of peace and quiet, and of course, Malaheem’s warm hospitality.
The VW hotel – which charges 40 Jordanian Dinars (approx. $56) for an all-inclusive, one-night stay – can only accommodate two guests at a time, but from the looks of the many “thank you” notes left by previous visitors, the hotel is beloved by many. In fact, Ali’s place has received so many positive reviews that he’s planning to add several more VWs in the future.
Photography by Anas Al Rawashdeh/Mohammed Al Malaheem