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Paris Hilton shined brighter than ever at the annual amfAR gala in New York City Wednesday night—and it had nothing to do with her dazzling Jacob & Co. and Chopard diamonds. "I am so happy," the Elie Saab-clad hotel heiress gushed to E! News. "I've never been happier in my life."

Credit Paris' smile to Thomas Gross, her boyfriend of nearly a year. "I just feel like I'm in a different place in my life. I live in Switzerland now. I'm in love," she said of looking and feeling like her best self. "I don't know, I finally feel like myself. It's exciting. [I'm] genuinely happy."

So happy, in fact, that she'll be making an early exit from New York Fashion Week in order to spend more time with the businessman. "I just flew in last night from Switzerland, so I'm going to be going to a lot of shows, and then I have to rush back for Valentine's Day to Switzerland," Paris said. "My boyfriend's taking me on a surprise trip somewhere for my birthday and to celebrate our first Valentine's together. He said, 'Pack bikinis.' We're going to land somewhere tropical and beautiful and some place I've never been before, so I'm excited. I love surprises."

Paris Hilton, amfAR

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Paris also opened up to E! News about her famous family, saying she'll be "one of the coolest aunts ever" when Nicky Hilton gives birth to her first child later this year. "She is so excited. The whole family cannot wait. This is the first baby, the first time my parents being grandparents," she said. "Everyone's thrilled." Though Nicky is barely showing, "She's healthy," Paris said. "She's lucky."

The same can't be said for her mother, Kathy Hilton, and her aunts, Kim Richards and Kyle Richards, who have been at odds regarding a number of problems. Many of their issues have been put into the spotlight courtesy of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Paris understands better than anyone how that can make things worse. "The Simple Life definitely was the first reality show, and I had a lot of fun doing it, but now there's a lot of them out. With the Housewives I think they like to stir up controversy and trouble," she said, adding that things are "very good" between her mom and aunts. "We're a close family. Family is most important."