What’s best hotel iPhone app?

Having a handy iPhone app can drive bookings as travelers are by definition out and about. Here are my experiences with the iPhone apps of the major chains.

Starwood

First up is Starwood which has recently gone through a redesign. It's developed by mobile expert Bottle Rocket. It looks rather nice on the start screens and works reasonably fast on an iPhone5.

What I like:

– ability to see the account details (i.e. posted points, elite stay credits)

– ability to register for latest promotion through the app

– clear display of upcoming stays

– easy to find support options

– Passport integration (though I'm not yet sure what hotels will do with the passport picture)

– shows the Starwood Preferred Guest Elite card in electronic form

What I do not like:

– the booking interface could be nicer

– awards and C+P can't be booked

– lackluster social media integration

Hilton

Hilton's app is pretty much just a gateway to their regular mobile site. It shows in slow speed and outdated UI.

What I like:

– ability to use all kinda of promo codes for booking

What I did not like:

– it's sloooow

– sessions expire all the time

– clunky user interface

– no ability to use points (C&P or award stays)

– no ability to review Hilton Honors account

– I could not find a way to see upcoming reservations

Club Carlson

Club Carlson also has done a relaunch of its app and it's pretty cool.

What I like:

– clear, nice UI

– ability to use points incl. C&P and premium rooms

– upcoming reservations show (though you need to go look for them)

What I do not like:

– my recent stays did not show?

– no ability to review account details or stay credits

– no access to promotions

Hyatt

Hyatt's website is probably the most unstable of any major chain – it seems to be constantly down. Their Gold Passport online interface i shaky at best so my expectations were low.

What I like:

– nice UI

– upcoming reservations show nicely

– account balance and stay credits show nicely (though no detailed account changes can be reviewed)

– I like the idea of Hyatt's web check-in though I never was able to use in in practice

What I do not like:

– Login required after each restart (although I requested to remember credentials)

– it's rather slow

– no option to use points

– does look like a 'pre-release'

Priority Club

The app looks a bit old fashioned and I hope they are busy working on an upgrade.

What I like:

– upcoming reservations are easily accessible

– it's fast!

– I love the map view in this app, it's super fast and looks nice

– ability to use points for awards (though no cash & points)

– account balance is visible (though cached which can be confusing)

What I do not like:

– no access to promotions

– no ability to see account details or stay credits (elite qualification)

So my favorite app is clearly Starwood which I use a lot followed by the IHG and Club Carlson. Club Carlson wins on it's nice UI but still limited functionality. IHG is just fast and given the coverage IHG has globally I have more reason to use it.

Hilton and Hyatt have their work cut out.

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