Move over, Gwynnie! Britain’s got its own woo-woo super-salon: Cameron Diaz’s cleanse. Hollywood’s top shaman. And the colonic that supermodels love. Sadie Frost’s new wellness centre offers Goop-style life boosters
- The Khera-Griggs Cleanse Clinic, in Knightsbridge, London, sits next to Harrods
- It is in the former residence of Maureen, the 4th Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava
- Clinic is a co-venture between PR Meena Khera and nutritionist Amanda Griggs
On the aptly named bottom floor, I’m having coffee and electrolytes funnelled the wrong way into my colon.
Next door, in a soundproof studio, world-renowned yogi and meditation experts specially recruited by actress Sadie Frost hold one-on-one sessions with appealing titles such as Body Love and Happier In My Own Skin.
Meanwhile, somewhere upstairs, Shaman Durek — Hollywood’s favourite spiritual guru, whose clients include his ‘soul sis’ Gwyneth Paltrow — is holding a ‘Spirit Hacking’ healing workshop.
All of which is just a taster of the goings-on at the new cleanse clinic being hailed as the most exciting wellness launch in years — and the UK’s answer to Goop, Paltrow’s wellbeing company.
For, here, you will find not only many Goop-type treatments — yoga, cupping, acupuncture, ‘transformational breath work’, infra-red saunas and nutrition advice (the cleanse incorporates mind, body and spirit, not just colons) — but that crucial celebrity element, too.
The Khera-Griggs Cleanse Clinic is in Knightsbridge, London. Pictured: Lucia Ferrari finds cupping defines her cheekbones
Just as Goop is a place for Paltrow ‘to introduce some of the incredible experts who have mentored her throughout her life’, here Sadie, 54, has gathered the practitioners on whom she relies to keep her in phenomenal mental and physical health.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a better British counterpart to Paltrow than Sadie, with her passion for yoga, veganism and holistic health, and her similarly age-defying looks.
Of course, while Goop is all Californian beach charm, the Khera-Griggs Cleanse Clinic has a distinctly London vibe.
It sits in one of the capital’s grandest spots, next to Harrods in Knightsbridge, in the beautiful former residence of Maureen, the 4th Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, a good friend of the late Queen Mother. The décor is that of an eclectic luxury home — special pink tile grouting was even shipped from New York.
Given the attention Goop gets in the UK, the wonder is perhaps that it took so long to arrive. For, nowadays, it’s not just A-listers detoxing: legions are doing green-juice diets, taking liver-boosting supplements or trying a colonic.
Cleansing is far more mainstream than when, 25 years ago, Princess Diana’s weekly colonic irrigation was met with surprise and scepticism.
It was this changing attitude that sparked the idea for Reena Hammer, daughter of acclaimed make-up artist Ruby Hammer and the MD of Urban Retreat.
Urban Retreat was London’s first super-salon when Reena’s father, entrepreneur George Hammer, opened it inside Harrods nearly 20 years ago.
Now, it’s revolutionising the market again. This year, under Reena’s management, it was relocated and reimagined as Urban Retreat at The White House, a five-floor, 12,000 sq ft beauty and wellness centre. Its cleanse clinic is the star of the show. ‘There was a demand for somewhere like this, with a focus on cleansing, but it was hard to integrate that into Harrods,’ says Reena. ‘So it made perfect sense to do it here.’
It was a chance reunion between George and former publicist Meena Khera, who has worked with stars such as Madonna, Kate Moss and Uma Thurman, and who was looking for London premises for a cleansing clinic at the time, that sealed the deal.
Meena is something of a pioneer. I’ve known her for two decades and remember her giving colonic vouchers to friends as birthday presents back when most of us had only just discovered mani-pedis.
She would even take conference calls mid-colonic, telling clients the sound of running water was ‘just a water feature, darling — I’m in a hotel lobby’.
She says: ‘Having a colonic is like taking your car for an MOT. Your body is the dashboard: things flash up like eczema or bloating, suggesting something is not quite right inside. A colonic is like cleaning the pipes or changing the oil. They make me feel more balanced and look better.
Actress Sadie Frost (pictured), 54, has gathered the practitioners on whom she relies to keep her in phenomenal mental and physical health
‘I’ve spent lots of time in LA with stars getting red-carpet ready, and I’ve been to the best cleansing retreats around the world — from Thailand to the Austrian Alps and the Californian desert — so I know what works. I wanted to provide somewhere in London where everyday people could access brilliant therapists — like the ones in Los Angeles, who are superstars in their own right.’
Meena knew who to call. First was Amanda Griggs, a nutritionist and expert in naturopathic and colonic health who owned clinics in London and San Francisco. In her supermodel days, Elle Macpherson called her whenever she was in London.
‘When you’ve had too much Greggs, you need a Griggs!’ laughs Meena.
Now a partner in the clinic, Amanda has practised colonic hydrotherapy for more than 20 years.
‘It’s all about quality control,’ says Meena. ‘We wanted the best of the best — therapists with a minimum of ten years’ experience to bring elements from the best cleansing retreats in the world under one roof.’
The next person Meena called was Sadie Frost, to bring in her yoga masters, Pilates and meditation experts — all practices that complement the cleansing experience and make the effects look and feel better.
‘I used to be Sadie’s publicist and she’s one person I implicitly trust,’ explains Meena. ‘She knows all the best people in this area.’
Sadie is equally excited about the new clinic. ‘I like the fact that cleansing is not done just by the elite any more, and having a place to do it all under one roof is brilliant,’ she says.
‘I’ve practised yoga since I was 15 — my mum introduced me to it. For core strength and body alignment, there is nothing like it, so I have brought in yogi masters Howard Napper, Maya Fiennes and Hortense Suleyman.
‘They all have different specialities: Howard can put together a plan for fidgety people; Maya specialises in Kundalini yoga and meditation; Hortense is all about body positivity and is great for anyone who’s had eating issues.’
She adds: ‘There’s also bespoke Pilates — where you can book sessions for getting rid of bad habits such as hunching over a computer — and meditation gurus. It’s an ongoing thing, and I’ll continue to introduce people who I think are relevant.’
Sadie, who has co-authored a wellbeing book called Nourish, and whose new yoga clothing range is on sale at the clinic, laughs when I ask if she sees herself as a Gwyneth Paltrow figure. ‘The thing is, I’ve been doing this since my teens, so for me, it’s the norm. Mum brought us up eating vegan food, so I’ve always lived this kind of lifestyle.’
So what can this clinic do for me? I begin with a consultation with Amanda, filling in a detailed form about my medical history and goals. I want to lose weight and curb my evening snacking, especially my Nutella habit. Recently, I’ve developed annoying patches of eczema.
The clinic is a co-venture between PR Meena Khera and nutritionist Amanda Griggs (far left)
The nutrition consultation (£195) takes 75 minutes and is both thorough and medical: blood tests for food intolerances are sent off (an extra £85); my blood pressure is taken; and a body composition machine calculates my body mass index (BMI), bone density and muscle mass.
I’m delighted when it reports that my metabolic age is ten years younger than I am — but not so chuffed to learn I should lose 6 kg.
I am nervous about discussing my eating habits, but Amanda applauds my Campari drinking (less sugar than wine when mixed with soda, plus antioxidants in its fruit and herb infusion). I’m also thrilled that my morning Nespresso can help my low blood pressure. Amanda says caffeine delivers a small, short-lasting increase.
She delivers everything in such a positive way that I bounce out of the consultation feeling like I’ve had therapy.
She does suggest a few tweaks, such as taking an omega-3 supplement, as she suspects from my food diary that I’m deficient (she’s spot on, as the blood tests reveal). She recommends probiotics to balance my gut, and suggests a healthier chocolate spread alternative called Jem. As for treatments, she recommends a contouring cupping and manual lymphatic drainage massage (actress Cameron Diaz’s favourite, apparently) and, yes, colonic hydrotherapy.
I’ve avoided colonics for years, and recently fainted during injections, so I’m not exactly punching the air with excitement, but it’s a core treatment here and there’s no escape.
The cupping comes first. This is ‘soft cupping’, with therapist Yumiko Inoue gliding silicone cups over my abdomen and face, rather than pressing them down. It is combined with manual lymphatic drainage, massaging areas of bloating with her hands.
The idea behind cupping is to remove toxins and improve blood flow (it’s been used in hospitals in China since the Fifties) and, when combined with lymphatic drainage, it can de-puff and de-bloat.
After 90 minutes, my cheekbones seem more prominent, my jawline less squashy and my abdomen flatter. Yumiko is going straight into my book of secret beauty weapons. The effects won’t last for ever (around four days), but it would be a great pre-party treatment.
When I return the following morning for my colonic, Amanda quashes my anxiety with a loud, double thumbs-up greeting. Her bedside manner is part cocktail-party guest, part royal obstetrician.
Once in a treatment room, I’m instructed to remove everything waist-down, lie on my side on the bed and cover myself with a towel. Amanda then takes a long, plastic pipe in one hand, while massaging my stomach with the other.
On the side sits a silver flask, which, she explains, contains a mix of electrolytes, to replace those flushed out, and a special type of coffee, good for liver cleansing.
During the 45-minute, £155 treatment, I also receive reflexology, pressure point and hot stone therapy on my stomach, to make it more effective and relaxing. To my surprise, we also chat: if having highlights makes for intimacy with your hairdresser, this is on another level!
At one point, Amanda hands me a glass of mineral water as if it were a martini at a drinks party.
The colonic, with its tailored ingredients, should restore gut balance and help my eczema. It may also reduce my late-night cravings and bloating, as both are associated with stress, and colonics help relaxation.
For Amanda, the main reason she finds colonics beneficial is that they kick-start a healthier lifestyle. ‘The client doesn’t want to eat junk afterwards,’ she explains. (A week later, I still haven’t been near the Nutella and have lost 1.5 kg).
People often say that they feel brilliant afterwards. For me, it’s just relief that it’s over — though my eyes do seem brighter and my tummy less bloated.
After the treatment, I am swiftly back to the luxury and serenity of The White House, finding Earl Grey in fine bone china waiting for me in the restaurant — once the Marchioness’s drawing room.
I love sitting in the same room where the Queen Mother once enjoyed a cuppa with her bestie.
Yet, while The White House has the atmosphere of a posh, private club, it’s totally accessible. You don’t have to be a member, and anyone can pop in to its restaurant for lunch or a cup of tea.
A few days later, Amanda calls with the results of my blood tests. Apparently, I’m slightly egg-white intolerant. She advises me to avoid tiramisu and egg pasta, and suggests a cocktail bar nearby that makes a great Pisco Sour with chickpea, instead of egg white, for the frothy bit on top.
Definitely my kind of cleanse.