My husband and I stayed at El Tovar for two nights in March 2013. (Forgive my posting delay!) The hotel is kind of in its own category, because, you know, there aren’t really any other options. We were on the ground floor and didn’t have much of a view, but could definitely see the canyon edge and path from our room. We could easily step out onto the side porch to see sunset and stars, and drink a beer procured at the Market Plaza. (Or get drink at the little bar, and carry them off anywhere you’d like.) In the morning, it was amazing to have a few blissful hours all to ourselves. Staying at Tovar and starting early we were actually alone at many of the best views. (Plus, it was March.)
The room was tiny, but very clean, and the hotel is bustling so expect some noise in the halls. Staff was friendly, and there are lovely, if somewhat crowded, classic old sitting rooms in the lobby and upstairs. (One imagines they are just the spot for drinking scotch after shooting a bear.) Overall it seemed much more atmospheric than the nearby Thunderbird & Bright Angel. The El Tovar Dining Room is gorgeously old fashioned and rustic/elegant, and also a huge step above the other lodge dining rooms. We ate there both nights and enjoyed it immensely (Particularly the quail!). (Make reservations when you make your booking. It’s your best (and only) nice option.) We also ordered a pancake breakfast room service our last morning – which was very affordable, delicious and highly recommended. Nearby parking is available but fills quickly, so be prepared to circle as you try to unload your suitcases. Visit the lobby concierge who is loaded down with maps, guidebooks, and lecture opportunities. If you aren’t a Grand Canyon veteran, if you go out the front and turn right past the Hopi House (nice jewelry) you are about 100ft from the Verkamps Curios shop, which is actually a good information center.
Overall everything in context, you know. One thing I can assure you is that there is no ritzier option that you are going to stumble on...you aren't going to uncover some out-of-the way Rosewood boutique hotel in the park. Once you recognize that and roll with it, you have to admit its really quite charming.