A cult – and very expensive – Austrian health clinic beloved of Michael Gove, Tracey Emin and the Rolling Stones is coming to London next month. But does it really do anyone any good?

The Viva Mayr clinic, a functional-looking alpine lodge, overlooks Lake Altaussee in Austria. Here a very famous supermodel once took off all her clothes and lay down naked on the banks, toes in the water, apparently in an “extreme emotional state”. The witness, another patient at the clinic, explained that this was not an abnormal reaction to day three at the Mayr.

Viva Mayr is a health centre that specialises in a form of extreme detoxification it refers to as “the Mayr cure”. Patients consume around 600 calories a day – roughly equivalent to one Pret a Manger BLT sandwich. But there’s no gluten here. Even grapes are vetoed. Epsom salts, water and goat’s cheese (lactose-free), however, are central themes. The programme is as notorious as it is successful (Vogue staffers and oligarchs are among the clinic’s regulars), and it’s generally booked up all year.

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