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  1. Luxury
April 5, 2024

‘Nightclubs aren’t cool anymore’: meet the new owner of Tramp

Tramp, that legendary nightclub where Sir Mick Jagger and Prince William partied, is set for a quieter, more sophisticated future under the ownership of former-banker-turned-nightclub-owner Luca Maggiora

By Stephanie Bridger-Linning

Tramp, that hedonistic hideaway where Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Michael Caine and Naomi partied, made headlines in November last year when it abruptly shuttered its doors after being sold to a ‘mystery buyer’ just weeks after hosting an event for Idris Elba. 

Yet behind-the-scenes the deal had been years in the making. Italian banking-analyst-turned-nightclub-owner Luca Maggiora had been patiently waiting in the wings – and sending countless emails – in the hope of one day swooping in to lay claim to the infamous playground to the rich and famous once owner Kevin Doyle was ready to sell. 

[See also: Spear’s reports from Necker Island as it opens for bookings]

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Now he is breathing new life into the St James’s institution, with plans to reopen it as a sophisticated private members’ club this autumn.

‘The reason behind wanting to buy Tramp was that I truly believed London didn’t need to have another private members’ club,’ he tells Spear’s. ‘What could I offer that someone else couldn’t? 

‘But I knew that there was a place that was more than just a members’ club. There was a place with [the] location, history, and members’ base – and with a 4am licence, which you don’t get in Mayfair anymore. Tramp was that place for me.’ 

A hedonistic hideaway

Work is underway behind the famous doors on Jermyn Street / Image: Shutterstock

Co-founded in 1969 by the late Johnny Gold, Tramp became the basement escape-from-reality where aristocrats, stars and the super-rich could carouse into the wee hours. The looser cousin to Mark Birley’s more straight-laced Annabel’s, Tramp is where Tara Palmer-Tomkinson posed outside in a snorkel and white bikini at her 21st birthday party; Prince William was snapped looking bleary-eyed on his way home; and his uncle Prince Andrew famously denied sweating on the dance-floor. 

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According to Tramp legend, Keith Moon, drummer of The Who, once pulled up to the front-door on Jermyn Street, naked and strapped to the bonnet of a white Rolls-Royce, just two days after he was given a 48-hour ban for causing a 17th-century chandelier to collapse.  

But that was then. Now, Maggiora has his sights set on a revamped vision of Tramp. Fun will be fostered but debauched parties are out – instead the basement club will be a place of intergenerational community; a ‘home away from home’.

The death of the nightclub

‘Nightclubs aren’t cool any more,’ insists Maggiora. It is a surprising confession from the serial entrepreneur, who worked for Intesa Sanpaolo Bank before moving to London to found popular nightspots including Luxx, Project, Scandal and Charlie. ‘The great Roger Moore, dancing in the 70s, was amazing; people getting destroyed until 5am, that was great at the time. Maybe until the early 2000s, it was a bit cool. But now it’s not.’

Renovations, which are now underway, will create intimate dining and drinking spaces where Maggiora hopes members – initially a select group hand-picked by him and his committee – will feel as comfortable popping in for supper on a Monday evening (dog in tow, should they wish) as putting on their glad-rags for cocktails on a Friday night.

[See also: London’s best private members’ clubs: the definitive list]

There will be no dance-floor but there will be a DJ on the weekend – and the extended licence means Tramp might become the ultimate after-hours destination.

‘Nightlife will never die. But it’s just changing how people have fun. Tramp nightclub is not how I want people to remember my Tramp. Tramp is a private members’ club – that’s how I want it to be.’

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