They know us by name at the Hotel Pepper Tree. They even know our favorite room. Fellow traveler Misty at the front desk shares an interest in unique lodging, and always kindly asks us about the places we've stayed, making us feel welcome. We wanted to know more about the history of this hotel. What we learned about its not too stellar past, made us love it even more.

Orange County gets a bad rap. While recently chatting with a new friend in the desert, the classic look of disdain crossed her face when I mentioned Orange County—the Oh, I could never live in a bland homogenized community full of Orange County Housewives and zero charm. I get it. I thought the same before transferring to NBC’s OC bureau in 1999. Never did I think the eclectic nature of my favorite Hollywood or Mid-Wilshire districts existed in the OC.

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