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Persian red lentil soup with tahini, beetroot and fried mint

Lentil soup may not sound like the sexiest of dishes, but rest assured, it's a heart-warmer. We've added warming spices and served the soup with a dollop of garlicky tahini. Thin slivers of shaved raw beetroot add earthiness and texture - the beetroot is also excellent simply grated and served piled on top. The poached egg is optional, but highly recommended.

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Blue Nile's Ethiopian eggplant dip

"I'd love the recipe for the eggplant dip the wonderful Fatuma Tikuye serves at Blue Nile in Blacktown." - Helena Rosebery, Annandale, NSW REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001. Please include the restaurant's name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.

How to make your holiday guests feel welcome: tips from top hoteliers

From welcome drinks to pre-paid transport, it’s the little touches that count.

'Tis the season to welcome guests into your home. For advice on how to be the perfect host to your visiting friends and family, we asked some of our favourite hoteliers for their hospitality tips.

Anneke Brown, general manager of GT's Hotel of the Year, COMO The Treasury (comohotels.com) in Perth, says first impressions matter.

"Spend time making sure your home looks warm and welcoming," she says. "The bedroom needs to feel homely, with a collection of good reading books and magazines, slippers by the bed, crisp white sheets and fluffy towels."

The group general manager of Jackalope Hotels (jackalopehotels.com), Tracy Atherton, offers inspiration from her time at Aman. "I was taught by Adrian Zecha, former chairman of Aman Resorts, that we should always welcome guests as if we are welcoming our good friends into our home," she says. "To me, that means getting a good drink into their hand as shortly after arrival as possible and showing genuine warmth and care with every interaction throughout their stay." Jackalope's debut property opens its doors on the Mornington Peninsula in early 2017, and the team has collaborated Melbourne-based Hunter Lab on a range of bath products exclusively for the design hotel.

A handwritten note on the pillow spells welcome, according to the general manager of Canberra's Hotel Hotel (hotel-hotel.com.au), Nicole Short. She also suggests decking out the guest bathroom with premium shampoo, conditioner and soap. "Aesop and MOR are my preferred ranges," says Short. Australian products will be especially prized by international travellers.

If guests are coming from afar, anticipate what they might need. Short says she always stocks the pantry and the fridge with her guests' favourite items and encourages them to help themselves. Atherton finds out in advance the types of wine or non-alcoholic drinks that will be most appreciated. Brown recommends collecting maps that outline great shops and restaurants for them to visit. "Circle your favourites and give them time to explore on their own," she says.

Niecha Joseph, "director of chaos" at QT Melbourne (qtmelbourne.com), says a well-made guest room isn't complete without a little something to "surprise and delight". "Take sweet inspiration from The Cake Shop at QT Melbourne with a homemade gingerbread treat," she suggests.

A cocktail on arrival will set the tone for a fun, relaxed stay. Joseph suggests a Christmas-inspired Pascale Eggnog. Shake together 45ml Martell VS Cognac infused with vanilla bean and star anise, 90ml homemade eggnog, a spritz of vanilla essence and a star anise. Strain into a crystal-cut rocks glass, and top with another spritz of vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg, a cinnamon quill and a star anise.

Feeling at home is all about comfort and freedom, according to Timo Bures, general manager of The Old Clare Hotel (theoldclarehotel.com.au) in Chippendale, Sydney. "You'll want to find that balance where your guests recognise you as a welcoming host while simultaneously creating an environment that is relaxed enough for them to kick off their shoes or grab a bottle of wine from the fridge," he says.

Bures says a thoughtful host provides their guests with the day-to-day things we all take for granted, and the things we often forget to pack. "Give guests the wi-fi password, a set of house keys, and a phone charger or adapter if they have arrived from overseas," he says.

"Recommend a good café, and treat them to an Opal card with enough credit for that first trip to the beach," he says. "An unexpected touch that shows you care is a small, personal gift, perhaps inspired by a recent conversation or something you spotted on their Instagram."

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