I am doing a Reading IELTS reading test and I don't get the meaning of this phrase "you contact us 30 days in advance of your booking" In this sentence:

"If you need to cancel your stay, you will receive a complete refund if you contact us 30 days in advance of your booking." (see the test)

Say, I wanted to have a room in a hotel on the 1st of November and then I booked the room on the 1st of Sep (I paid $200 dollars to them).

Now, I want to cancel the stay,

do I have to tell them on the 1st August which is about 30 days before my booking (which happened on the 1st of Sep)?

Why do I have to tell them 30 days before the booking happens?? I might not have an idea of booking at that time on the 1st of August.

I don't understand what "in advance of your booking" means?

Why didn't they say "in advance of your future stay"?

  • 4
    They obviously mean the date of your booked arrival. It would not make any sense to talk about cancelling a booking 30 days (or any period) before you made it. You clearly gather this. To the hotel, your booking starts on 1st November. Oct 3, 2023 at 14:26
  • 2
    I think it's clumsily worded. Imho, by default, [the date of] your booking refers to the date you booked the stay, not the date when you will stay at the hotel. But since that obviously doesn't make sense in the context, there shouldn't be any scope for ambiguity. The reason you have that time constraint is they want to have at least 30 days notice that the room will be unoccupied, so hopefully they'll be able to rent it to someone else (to pay for your refund! :) Oct 3, 2023 at 14:31
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    That is a good question. As a non-native speaker, I would have surprised to see "booking" used that way, I mean, in the sense of "check-in" because we were all taught that booking means "reserving". Still, I looked it up whether it also means "check-in". And I have found such a meaning, which is chiefly British, and it means "to register in a hotel". Here is the link: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/book
    – Yunus
    Oct 3, 2023 at 14:40
  • 1
    I am used to seeing a 'booking' meaning both the act of booking and what you have booked (e.g. a month in a hotel, a massage, a flight). Oct 3, 2023 at 16:06

2 Answers 2


That question uses the word "booking" incorrectly, and as you've guessed, it should read, "...in advance of your stay" or "...in advance of the date you have booked".

That said, I would understand immediately what they intended (contact them by October 1) and probably would not even notice that "booking" was used incorrectly.

So I'm disappointed to see this mistake in an IELTS practice exam and it indicates a lack of quality at that site. Even if it's a commonplace mistake, it doesn't belong in an English test.


From Wordnik: booking: noun A reservation, as for accommodations at a hotel.
From Vocabulary.com: book: verb arrange for and reserve (something for someone else) in advance

From the test question: ...you will receive a complete refund if you contact us 30 days in advance of your booking.

In this case, booking is a noun that represents the result of the action of having booked (verb) a room in advance. Treating the word booking as a gerund which describes an action that is happening results in nonsense so it cannot be correct.

Gerund: Booking a room was a nightmare.
Verb: I'm booking a room, so don't bother me.
Noun: After a nightmarish experience, the hotel finally has a booking on record.

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