“ Address: Stationers Place / Apsley / Hemel Hempstead / Hertfordshire / HP3 9RH / Tel: 01442 288 800 „
This is my local pub and my boyfriend and I find ourselves there at least once every week or two! The reason we like it is its nice atmosphere, which is not too scruffy and 'local' but not too trendy or soulless. It is right next to the canal in Apsley in Hertfordshire, near a footbridge that leads over to the towpath. Despite being right next to a main road, it's a really nice setting and the 'front' of the pub looks over the canal, which often has swans, ducks and barges floating past...ahhh. We moved here in summer and on the day we came househunting we had lunch here, and they had a lovely BBQ on the decking by the canal which I think swung it for us!
It is decorated in quite a traditional way but because it's newish and pretty big, it doesn't feel stuffy. It's very airy and light in the daytimes, and cosy in the evenings - especially in winter when they have a big open fire right in the middle of the pub. There are lots of tables and chairs, as well as comfy squishy sofas and a long bar which you can also sit at. The Paper Mill has an extensive drinks menu, with a good wine list (not cheap but lots of choice) and always have changing ales and beers on tap. My boyfriend likes all the local ales, but they also have all the usual lagers and bottled beers. They also do lots of unusual drinks which are sometimes advertised on blackboards at the bar, the latest one being different kinds of Pimms, with all the different No. blends as well as the option to top up with ginger beer instead of lemonade. Yum! The staff are always friendly and there are lots of them, so you always get served quickly.
Upstairs is a restaurant and is a little bit darker and smarter, but still laid back and really welcoming. (You can also eat downstairs in the pub though). I've only eaten here a couple of times but both times it's been great. The menu is quite gastro-pubby with traditional English favourites and a few posher things with a twist. I've had a lovely steak, and a coq au vin, both really good. Portion sizes are pretty generous too, and you don't usually have to order sides separately. Prices are higher than average pub food with starters from around £5 and mains from around £9-£20 but the quality is worth it. The service is quite classy for a pub too.
The loos are easy to find and very clean and pleasant. There is also lots of parking which is a plus, and it's easy to find from the main road through the village. Overall this is a really nice pub and one which anyone would feel welcome in. Come and visit if you ever find yourself in Apsley!