New and Noteworthy for the Week of 8/6

In this issue: Amsterdam, Venice, Tokyo, Washington, D.C….

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See: Genius distilled in D.C.
Talk about a show-off. After commissioning 50 artists to compose variations on his humble waltz, Anton Diabelli heard back from Ludwig van Beethoven. To prove how mediocre Diabelli’s waltz was, the maestro sent back 33 versions. What a geek. From the creator of the Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman, comes the new play 33 Variations, which chronicles the creation of the Type-A composer’s famous variations. It’s sure to make you feel under-accomplished but awestruck nonetheless. Aug. 24-Sept. 30 at the Arena Stage Theater.

Stay: Sticker-shockless in Venice
Forget the Danieli and the Londra Palace — the newest landmark hotel in Venice is the Hilton Molino Stucky. This thoroughly decent, clean 380-room hotel was once a flour mill. It’s been transformed into a pleasant and spacious place to stay that is actually affordable — nothing to sneer at in a city where everything, including your bank account, tends to sink. The Skyline Bar, on the 9th floor, has delicious cocktails and glorious views along the Giudecca Canal. Doubles from 199 euros per night.

Eat: Not your dorm room ramen
Exercising your plastic in Tokyo’s Omotesando Hills shopping complex can be tiring. Refuel at Mist, a 21-seat “noodle studio” inside the Tadao Ando-designed complex. The look is minimalist-chic, with counter seats, a stainless steel kitchen and burgundy banquettes. The food, as lovely as the space, includes homemade ramen — springy, firm, and served with a savory broth. The menu boasts two styles of ramen and three optional toppings. At lunch, gourmet ramen and one beverage will set you back $15-$17. (Kathryn Matthews)

Play: Chicago’s top spa
Chicago’s amazing Peninsula Hotel is one of the Windy City’s swankiest addresses, yet the treatments in its rooftop spa are surprisingly affordable — amazing given that the spa has just undergone an extensive makeover that includes the addition of lots of pretty wood, stone materials, and, fittingly, a roster of new treatments. Which one is best? Definitely the Jet Lag Eliminator — lymphatic skin brushing, exfoliation, acupressure head massage, and more. You’ll definitely leave with a glow. One-hour treatments from $155.

Drink: In Amsterdam, wine upstages coffee
The newest hot spot in Amsterdam isn’t a coffee house, it’s a wine bar called Vyne, from the owners of the trendy eatery Envy. The cozy space, designed by sleek local architects from the firm Concrete (sorry about these names, folks), features a wall of artfully lighted wine cases and adorable suede banquettes. Should you want some munchies with your vino, try the local Zeeland oysters or the grilled chicken skewers with soy and vanilla. Prinsengracht 411.

Shop: On the Internet, it’s Nau or never
What, you may ask, is a Webfront? An online weather pattern? The Internet act of posing as something you’re not? New clothing retailer Nau (stores in Chicago, IL, Bend, OR, Boulder, CO, and Bellevue, WA) has coined the phrase and it goes a little something like this: in an attempt to reduce energy costs in their outlets, keep retail space to a minimum, and give the savings back to the consumer, you can visit the stores, try on hip duds, place your order online at an in-store kiosk, and have your purchase delivered right to your door. Nau that’s what we call service.

Stuart Michaels

Photo credit: courtesy of Arena Stage; illustration by Jody Hewgill.