God's Hotel

God's Hotel

A Doctor, A Hospital, and A Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Penguin Putnam
Look out for Victoria Sweet's new book, SLOW MEDICINE, coming October 2017

For readers of Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, a medical “page-turner” that traces one doctor’s “remarkable journey to the essence of medicine” (The San Francisco Chronicle). 

San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (God’s hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves—“anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times” and needed extended medical care—ended up here. So did Victoria Sweet, who came for two months and stayed for twenty years.
     Laguna Honda, relatively low-tech but human-paced, gave Sweet the opportunity to practice a kind of attentive medicine that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place transformed the way she understood her work. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her extraordinary patients evoked an older idea, of the body as a garden to be tended. God’s Hotel tells their story and the story of the hospital itself, which, as efficiency experts, politicians, and architects descended, determined to turn it into a modern “health care facility,” revealed its own surprising truths about the essence, cost, and value of caring for the body and the soul.

Baker & Taylor
A portrait of America's last surviving almshouse describes the author's practice at Laguna Honda Hospital, explaining how its patients and low-tech focus on "attentive medicine" transformed her views about health care.

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2013
ISBN: 9781594486548
Characteristics: 416 p.; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 13, 2016

This could be a book that you skip because you think, "I don't want to read about that". If you do, then you are missing a great book.

Jan 10, 2015

Hold this item for me.

Jul 19, 2013

Quite good. Very informative and inspirational.

Jane60201 Jun 02, 2013

Describes the change over the last ten years between medicine as usual and the new methods of delivering health care--which are not going to go away.

Apr 26, 2013

A great book that gives you hope for humankind. Also, a horrifying description of what modern health care has degenerated to (in the U.S., but give us 5 yrs and Canada will be there too.)
Remember when medicine was a noble profession? Really, it was. This brave author shoes the way back.

Oct 30, 2012

I could not put this book down. The way it is written is "magical" even tho, completely true. Left me with a feeling of awe.

Jul 21, 2012

This is without a doubt one of the best books I've read in years. The author touches on bureaucratic inefficiency, the shortcomings of completely science-based medicine, Hildegard of Bingen and medieval medicine, the humanity and resilience of patients, and what she learned from her pilgrimage through France and Spain. It is about so much more than a hospital. I have a growing list of family, friends and colleagues I want to recommend it to and some of them will probably get it for Christmas!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number



Find it at BPL

To Top