Phantom Ranch is your only lodging option at the bottom of the canyon, and thank goodness it's a great one.
-Length of stay: We stayed a whopping three nights, though most people seem to stay one. We decided that two nights would have been perfect.
-Dorms vs Cabins: It's worth calling to see if there is a last minute cancellation and whether you can swap out your dorm reservation for a cabin.
-About the Dorms: four dorms: two for men, two for women; dorms have ten beds in 5 bunks, plus one toilet in a little room by itself, a shower in another room by itself, and a sink out in the common area. Bedding and towel included. Our dorm was as (un)clean as you expect a dorm full of transient, sweaty hikers to be -- oh well, get over it. The shower was mildewy and grimey. Accept it now, and all will be good.
-What to expect in a dorm: Check in at the canteen, go to your cabin and claim a bed. Remember to consider proximity to doors (foot traffic), lighting, and a/c vents (yes, there's a/c). People come in and out during all hours of the day -- it's a dorm, so that's normal. Yes, people make noise. It's normal. A member of the staff pops in at 4:30a for wake-up, though some people may be waking up well before or well after.
Food: Sounds pricey at first glance, but remember they lug everything in by mule. The food is very tasty and homey, and worth every penny. We had the beef stew every night, which was very hearty. It is served family style, and you can ask for more. Also includes a great fresh salad, Ranch dressing, corn bread, water, and iced tea. The breakfast is wonderful, too: scrambled eggs, real bacon, and real pancakes with syrup. Because the meals are made fresh, you can't pick them up early for a pre-5am hike. About the "lunch"... not worth it. It is/was a prepackaged hard bagel, packet of cream cheese, jelly, an apple, raisins, peanuts, oreos, vacuum packed sausage. They don't let you swap it out, but they do sell these items a la carte between 8-4p, so you might as well just buy the items you like individually. I wish we had only purchased the bagel and apple, for instance, which would have cost us approx $4, much less than the full "lunch sack" price. Nevertheless, I should reiterate that the breakfast and dinner are certainly worth the money.
---Fair Warning: if you buy a breakfast and decide last-minute to hike out earlier than breakfast time, they -will not- give you anything else in its place, not even a prepackaged bagel.
-Grounds: Bugs weren't really a problem. Flies, common type, were the major, major nuisance at Phantom Ranch. We couldn't do anything about them, but they were a serious buzzkill. The grounds in general are peaceful. You should go in the cold spring water creek and bask in the sun.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.