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European Vacations for the Rich and Fabulous

It may not be too late to book that dream vacation to Europe this summer.

If you forgot to book that summer getaway to Europe and thought all was lost, don't despair -- too much.

April is somewhat late for planning summer's European getaway; the best villas are likely booked, yacht charters are hard to find and all the hot new hotels are likely sold-out.

But before you resign your Louis Vuitton flip-flops to another Orient Express Hotel or outpost of the Four Seasons, we suggest taking another look at a few hotels that define summer for European glitterati. Yes they're opulent and lavish (especially for dollar-poor Americans), but they're also summer's best destinations for the fashionable jet set that spare no expense when looking for the chicest of summer getaways.

Glamorous Amalfi Coast

Palazzo Sasso

It's a dramatic ascension of hairpin turns to the hilltop town of Ravello, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Once you arrive at the Palazzo Sasso, there will be little doubt why you came. Just south of Amalfi and Positano, the hotel is perched on one of the most dramatic hillsides on the Amalfi, with views that have captivated aristocrats and pop icons for more than five centuries.

Today the hotel is hotter than ever, attracting one of the most stylish crowds outside of Capri looking for Italian opulence not found in the form of a chain hotel.

This palazzo-style tower peers distinguishably over the Mediterranean with Moorish balconies and storybook windows. An ornate lobby with charming front-desk staff acts like a personal concierge at a private villa. The grassy pool area and formal gardens are terraced down the property, arranged with loungers of fashionable travelers sipping fruit-infused water.

The scenery changes a guest's perspective, replacing the worries of the world with a 220-degree ocean view surprisingly well priced from ¿330 during high season.

Parisian Luxury Escape

Hotel Tremoille

Located in the exclusive 8th arrondissement between Avenue George V and Avenue Montaigne, the Beaux-Arts hotel is set in one of Paris' chicest areas surrounded by designer boutiques and celebrity neighbors.

Its stone-façade looks very much the glamorous Parisian hotel, elegantly presiding over a prime piece of corner real estate with sporadic traffic -- aside from the walking fashion-set. Guests enter a distinguished lobby area with Chippendale chairs and emblem-emblazoned front desk with old-school French service free of that touristy vibe found elsewhere in the hood.

Originally built in 1883, the hotel underwent a yearlong renovation of all guest rooms and common areas in 2001. Renovated by Richard Martinet (Pershing Hall and George V), rooms blend contemporary design with comfortable textures and furnishings utilizing mohair fabrics, ornate fireplaces (albeit ceiled-over) and wrought iron balconies that open to neighborhood views.

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Each room is equipped with a door hatch, from the days of butlers not wanting to bother their private guests, now used for room service deliveries without having to open the door naked.

Barcelona Retreat

Gran Hotel La Florida

Two bellmen stand at attention next to two large doors that create a soft breeze when they open, each in Mandarin-collared suits with buzzed hair and bronze skin. The lobby is modern with an air of refinement, the check-in area tucked inside a private room away from the central staircase that traces the height of the building.

Remodeled in 2002 by David Stein and designer Patricia Keller, the hotel was a 20th Century meeting point for Hollywood stars like Rock Hudson and temporary residence of Ernest Hemmingway before being all but abandoned.

The historic common areas offer a glamorous approach to guest rooms, decked-out with original artwork and sculptures from the owner's collection.

The best rooms face the city with panoramic views, oversize terraces and private Jacuzzis. Larger rooms offer small lounge areas with modern loft-like feel complete with the prerequisite plasma TV for added hipster-touch.

Fitness addicts find a fantastic spa and gym packed with elliptical machines and a weight room topped off with a spectacular stainless-steel indoor/outdoor infinity pool offering humbling views of Barcelona.

A Cannes Revival

The Martinez

It's the only true luxury hotel in Cannes, situated on the famous La Croisette Promenade just a few blocks from the Palais des Festivals -- site of the Cannes Film Festival.

After extensive remodeling through much of the early 2000s, a distinguished marble lobby exemplifies art-deco design with a modern reception area decorated with brown-leather club chairs and clerks seated at bank-like desks. The lobby area adjoins a casual poolside bistro, oh-so-stuffy Michelin-rated La Palme d'Or restaurant and lively piano bar popular with Russian moguls and their platinum-blonde trophy wives.

A seventh-floor spa, operated by Givenchy, offers a cosmetic sanctuary with beauty treatments and massage options as well as a well-furnished fitness center. A small walkway connects the hotel with a lavish beach club, named Z-Plage in 2004, with top-notch mattress service and flavorful restaurant stocked with Riviera eye-candy.

While most of the rooms have been completely renovated from their rose-colored velvet past, the best rooms are still the row of rooftop penthouses with expansive terraces overlooking the Mediterranean.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.