Working as a consultant was a great opportunity to broaden one's work experience. However, I missed really feeling part of a company. The above questions are difficult to answer because the hours worked are controlled/dictated by the client/assignment.
The management at the time tended to make things a little stressful for the consultants but I believe that culture has since changed for the better.
The hardest part of being a consultant is going on to a new assignment working on something that perhaps you've never been exposed to before. With experience, you overcome that pretty quickly.