Down aways from the Dana Nature Reserve off the Kings Highway, right outside the Shobak Castle in Amman, Jordan a man lives in a cave. On the side of this dusty highway is a parked white Volkwagen.
Mohammed Al Malahim is the owner of the smallest hotel in all of the world (I can’t say this with complete confidence because I have yet to travel the whole world but I digress). Malahim retired from working in the government sector in 1990. Unfortunately the pension wasn’t enough to provide for him and his family so he got creative.
After World War 2 there was a heavy import of Volkswagen cars from Germany but apparently small cars were not the fashion in Jordan. So he bought it from a friend for cheap and hollowed it out to create a hotel.
For 25 JD a night you can stay inside of a Volkswagen in the archaeological town of Shobak. The Shobak castle was built in 1115 by Baldwin I of Jerusalem during his expedition to the area where he captured Aqaba on the Red Sea in 1116. In other words its really old. In an effort to bring back the culture and vitality of this historical town Malahim added traditional Jordanian jewelry, dresses and food to give to his guests.
He used a cave he found on the side of the Shobak castle to make his home and after his children moved away and his wife passed on this hotel became his life. He has been featured numerous times in the news, prestigious officials come to visit him from the French Prime Minister to the Japanese ambassador.
“I don’t want money, I just want visitors,” he says in Arabic.
The walls of his cave are adorned with business cards from the officials who have come to stay at his hotel. He has every visitor sign their name in a guest book he keeps in his cave.
So if you ever find yourself careening down the Kings Highway, don’t forget to spend the night in a white Volkswagen. You will get to meet a kind man with a big heart who lives in a cave.