Kind: Whale
Platform: iOS
Version: 6.5.1
Rating: 3.5 Stars
AppScore™: C
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Teardown: SPG iOS App

Starwood Hotels is large hotel chain, managing over 1200 properties worldwide under it’s various brands (11 in all). It was acquired in 2016 by Marriott, making the combined company the largest hotel company in the world. For road warriors everywhere, the choice of which rewards program to choose hence became moot, as the rewards programs started offering reciprocal benefits.

As usual, let’s highlight the good, the bad and the noteworthy. If you want more details you can order a detailed version of this report at the end.


Hotels are very rarely at the forefront of innovation, as the core value prop with hotels remain somewhere to put your head down. Often, as in the case of SPG, it’s pretty obvious that the app has not had significant investment or polish. For example, it’s pretty obvious to us that the app makes extensive use of cross platform HTML elements, a pet peeve of ours when it’s noticeable.

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The Good

Again, the core value prop of a hotel is the physical amenities of the hotel itself, and the app does a good job of including all relevant information right inside the app:

A good job, but far from spectacular.

The Bad

One example of where the lack of investment shows through is the map integration (or rather, lack there of):

Doing a native implementation would probably have taken one developer one day, so this omission is symptomatic of the overall feel of the app.

The Noteworthy

Losing hotels key suck, so having a feature that can mitigate it is noteworthy:

Pretty neat!


Overall the app is only a marginal upgrade on the mobile website, and it’s pretty obvious that parts of it is only a thin skin over said site. That’s a shame, given how large the Starwood chain is and how many people come through their hotels daily. One suspects that with more investment, this could have been a tool to differentiate Starwood. Currently it feels more like somebody needed to check the box that says “yes we have an app”.

Author: Emily Gomez & Einar Vollset, Corresponding Author:


For each teardown we collect over 200 data points, including UX best practices, search capabilities, payment integrations as well as re-engagement tactics and social/engagement features. Each teardown includes an overall score, along with the score for each of the 20+ categories we collect data under. We then provides either video and/or slideshow content of the actual app, highlighting important parts of the app along with particularly good, bad or surprising functionality.