When visiting Las Vegas for business, grabbed the opportunity to make reservations at Phantom Ranch for the 10 person male dorm. There were two reasons to be hesitative: 1) I would have to hike solo in mid-winter and 2) a few days of low day and night temperatures (day <20F and night <0F) would set in exactly in "my" dates, including snow predicted. I decided to go for it and was rewarded in full! second week of January turned out to be the ultimate time to visit Grand Canyon (had been at both North and South Rim in all other seasons): no crowds, no heat, lots of silence and solitude!
My route was South Kaibab Trail (SKT; 3 hrs no stops) down to Phantom Rach (1 night) and up the Bright Angel trail (BAT; 5 hrs; including two 15 min stops). The loop trail adviced by park rangers and right so. Views on SKT are so much better than on the BAT and best seen when descending. SKT is steeper (thoug shorter) to ascend than BAT, but IMHO going up BAT is worth the extra 2,5 miles. In summer BAT also offers more shade than SKT; you'll need it.
Arriving at the Ranch, to my suprise, I was offered an upgrade (for a fee) to a private 4 person cabine just for myself). The cabin is basic in its construction but its very well equipped: 2 bunk beds, heating/cooling, toilet, sink (cold water only), clock radio and table with chairs. Don't expect the Hilton, but it very much feels like one when down there. They have a fully equipped shower buidling, offering individual showers (warm, not hot, water), enough towels and body wash/shampoo.
1) A/C usage mandatory in summer and it will be quite loud, you can hear A/C units from neighbouring cabins too.
2) My cabin (#11; had chosen it myself) was next to the duffel service load site that starts at 6am (not operational when I was there). Since first breakfast seating is 5:30am, 6am does not have to be a problem :)
3) a small generator seemed to be running all night in the utility building. So to summarize: in the dorm or not, bring earplugs.
I had steak dinner (steak, big potato, salad, bread, peas, corn, chocolate cake; reservation before arriving mandatory!!) which was more than adequate. Dinner is family style and strictly organized; it was not clear to me why it had to be so strict, but anyway it was very enjoyable though. Beer and wine are not included in the dinner fee.
In the morning I joined breakfast at 7am; again reservation before arriving mandatory. Very good American style breakfast, again family style. Peaches, pancakes, scrumbled eggs, bacon, orange juice, coffee/tee; enough to fuel your upcoming hike back up the canyon.
Also, I ordered a sacked lunch. Well, it is all about expectations, but to me it looked more like sacked crap (good: raisins, apple, pretzels [for salt]; bad: "summer sausage", Oreo cookies, some small packages of juice liquid something, dry tasteless bagle with Smuckers jam)). I brought snacks like snickers and M&Ms myself for the hike, but they turned out to be much more like nutrition and genuine food. I did not expect a 3 star lunch box, to be clear. But I did expect food. My advice: carry in your own lunch and buy some apples and pretzels at the ranch. My opinion about the lunch does not affect my overal opinion about the Ranch!
Staff at the ranch was extremely friendly and service oriented. Could imagine that being different in summer when the place (and campground) is full and the canyon is hot. In any case they told me the guests where less friendly in summer because of the heat.
Staying at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is a lifetime experience; staying at Phantom Ranch only ads to that!