12 Friday, 14 August 2009 London Lite Bed down at luxury Bargain Spanish doll: Rene Zellweger in Barcelona this week Celebrity hotspot Barcelona AfricAn conservAtion experience On this 12-week trip through south Africa and Botswana, you help to rehabilitate animals, pelt around in a 4x4 with a field guide and take part in conservation projects. Youll deal with poisonous snakes and creepy- crawlies, and camp in the bush amid lions and hyenas. From 5,270 including flights, meals, accommodation and project activities. conservationafrica.net non-stop ski And snowboArd Head to Canada for an 11-week snowboarding or ski instructor course with the industrys best instructors in Fernie, Red Mountain, Whistler and Banff. Learn in group and one-to-one sessions, go off- piste, use video analysis to hone your technique and take part in snowmobiling. From 5,763 including flights, accommodation, tuition, meals and activities. nonstopski.com LeArn to surf And Life-sAve MOst gap-year jaunts take in some amazing coastlines and beaches, but instead of lounging around on the sand like a beach bum, why not learn to surf and life-save? By qualifying as an ssA Level 1 surf instructor and sPA surf life-saver, youll not only impress your peers, but could also pay your way on future adventures. the course lasts 10 weeks and takes place in a range of exotic surfing destinations including south Africa, Costa Rica and Mozambique. Costs 4,995 excluding flights. ttride.co.uk Fill a gap: surf and save in Costa Rica 3 best... gap-year projects Hostels with a five-star facelift H osteLs are shaking off their bedbug-ridden, no mod cons image for a luxury new look. and the best thing? the price tag stays the same. Heres our pick of the coolest hostels around. BESTFOR...THEBEACH VillaSaintExupry,Nice ReguLaRLy voted into the worlds top 10 hostels, this converted monastery is set in a park overlooking Nice. the old chapel is now a lounge, theres a bar on site and a tram to Nice runs until 2am. Hit the town: the hostel arranges every- thing from kitesurfing to canyoning, while the beaches of Nice, antibes and Cannes are all nearby. saunter along the seafront Promenade des anglais, dine at La Casa del sol, then go dancing at La suite (book a table to make sure youre on the list). pay up: Private twin rooms cost from 29.05 per person, vsaint.com BESTFOR...MODCONS PlusFlorence,Florence sWiMMiNg pool? yep. Flat screen tV in every room? of course. terrace bar overlooking the duomo? absolutely! Makes you wonder why anyone would stay in a hotel. also boasts a basement bar, complete with dJ. Hit the town: only a 10-minute walk from the uffizi gallery, youre right in the middle of the action with the duomo and the quirky shops of the santa Croce quarter World-class: Villa Saint Exupry is rated best wHo Rene Zellweger on holiday with boyfriend Bradley Cooper. wHY Go Because ever since Vicky Cristina Barcelona, youve been desperate to explore the city. tHe vibe Lively and cosmopolitan. best for The architecture, the culture, the cuisine, the cafs. wHere to stAY Chic & Basic Born is in hot neighbourhood, El Born -- home to boutiques, restaurants and bars. The rooms are minimalist but sexy and the hotels White Bar is a destination in its own right. Doubles 109; chicandbasic.com. wHere to eAt Barceloneta (00 34 93 221 2111) serves delicious cocina marinera (seafood) and classic Catalan dishes for 35 a head. wHAt to do The city is an amazing testament to Gaudis architectural achievements, so explore his lifes work. See the Park Gell, a green space full of his sculptures and with an unbeatable view over the city. soMetHinG different Dry Martini (00 34 93 217 5080) takes the art of cocktail mixology to new heights. Enjoy the super-strong drinks. top tip Be diligent when in La Rambla and the Born -- there are pickpockets aplenty. How to Get tHere easyJet (easyjet.com) flies round-trip from Gatwick to Barcelona for 63.44. for More detAiLs bcn.es JENNIFER BARTON 29p/p pernight 25p/p pernight By CAThy WINsTON Yourtime 2 index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html