Hotels around the world seem locked in an arms race to create the biggest, most opulent, most luxurious experience for their guests. However, a lone hotelier in rural Jordan has taken the exact opposite tack — he’s created what he’s claiming is the world’s smallest hotel.
Known locally as “Abu Ali”, 64-year old Mohammed Al Malaheem has lived in the tiny Jordanian desert village of Al Jaya his entire life. In recent years, many of his friends and family absconded from the area in search of a more modern life. Abu Ali decided to stay and converted a beat-up, decades-old VW Beetle into a “welcome wagon” of sorts for travelers to the town and the country he loves so dearly. Between exploring the ancient city of Petra, floating in the Dead Sea, hiking legendary Wadi Rum, and now the epic 400-mile Jordan Trail, it’s hard to imagine travelers needing yet another reason to visit Jordan. However, al Malaheem deeply loves his hometown and created the “hotel” as a way to draw new travelers to the area.
“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,” al Malaheem tells CNN.
Before opening the hotel’s doors in 2011, his daughter outfitted the Beetle with a bevy of unique, handmade decorative items like pillows, linens, and brightly colored beadwork. The cozy interior (obviously) sleeps just two, but al Malaheem already has plans to expand by adding additional VW Beetles (rooms) to the property.
Beyond the eclectic interior lies the hotel “reception,” situated in a cave where coffee, tea, and snacks are served at check-in. A nearby kiosk sells legit, locally made artisan wares, including jewelry, historical artifacts, and copper souvenirs. Al Malheem also offers every guest the opportunity to sample an authentic Bedouin breakfast or lunch made by his daughters. It’s all a testament to the family’s immense hospitality — a level of service that he promises is a “five-star experience.”
The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Germany’s Eh’häusl Hotel as the world’s smallest hotel. With an eight-foot-wide, 173-square-foot floor plan, it’s easy to see why. But, Al Malaheem is currently in the process of usurping that title.
Nightly rates with full board run 40 Jordanian Dinars (about $56).
All images courtesy of Anas Al Rawashdeh/Mohammed Al Malaheem.